Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spam: it's what's for dinner, and email too!

The following is an investigative research article I wrote this semester at SJSU.

There comes a time when enough is enough.

If you’re like most people you start the morning the same pretty much every day. The alarm goes off, way too early, and maybe you’ll hit the snooze button a few times, until you’re way too late. You’ll hop in the shower and try not to fall back asleep with the warm water running on your face. You get dressed way to quickly, run to the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, grab an apple if you’re lucky, then head out the door to work. You make it just on time, and being the great employee you are, you greet everyone with a smile - even though you may not feel as cheery as you act, after all, you’re at work. But nonetheless, you decide to get this day up and running. You’re at your desk, not the best desk in the office, but you like it because it’s yours, not anyone else's. You sign on to the computer and pull up your email, anxiously awaiting all the goodies you might find. Eighty new emails?! “Amazing,” you think to yourself, “I can already tell this is going to be a great day.” Not quite. You begin reading down the list of emails: Debt Consolidation, Gambling, Male Enhancement Pills, BAD CREDIT OK! You immediately slump down in disappointment, and begin tediously sorting through all your junk mail, adding yet another mundane thing to your already monotonous day.

A recent article in Technology & Society Magazine cites a study by Spamhaus saying over 75% of emails received by businesses and civilians alike are spam. This number is staggering. What’s to keep this number from growing even more? The answer, according to this same study, is not a whole lot. They estimate by the year 2015 spam will exceed 95% percent of all email traffic, projecting that many users will simply delete their email accounts in frustration.

This has the potential of being a huge problem. Think of how far we’ve come since the days of “snail mail,” as it has come to be called. Even the United States Postal Service is beginning to realize the future may not be too kind to old fashioned mail, and yet still acknowledges the internet’s advantages. Stephanie Sanborn of CNN had a chat with deputy postmaster general John Nolan just a few years back. “In that sense, we’re ready for the Internet to be a disruptive technology and completely disrupt our normal volumes. How much and to what extent remain to be seen. But it’s also a supportive technology; we see tremendous opportunities in being able to reach more customers in a much richer fashion through the internet,” Nolan said.

This is not to say many haven’t tried inventing ways to counteract spam. In fact, it has become a giant business in the United States. Fighting Spam for Dummies, Block It!, McAfee Spamkiller, Zero Spam, and Degunking Your Email are just a few of the many software and do-it-yourself programs out there profiting from this whole spam epidemic.

Without any mainstream alternatives to using email, however, many businesses and their employees are forced to dredge through spam for a good percentage of their workday, cutting productivity as well as profits. With as much as a three percent reduction in efficiency due to spam, many companies feel the brunt of this growing problem.

“Sometimes I’ll waste hours trying to figure out which emails are junk and which aren’t, I’m so sick of it,” says Eddie Daroza, senior editor of

In addition to simply wasting time, spam brings along with it many hidden problems, including viruses and identity theft. In the June 2006 issue of Telephony Magazine, Tim McElligott reported on a recent study conducted by Ferris Research. The study found the average cost to repair a system infected with a common virus is $200. With many new computers costing less than a thousand dollars, this $200 mark becomes a huge percentage of the computer’s initial value, equivalent to six thousand dollars in repairs on a moderately priced vehicle. Additionally, as of this year, the study said it’s easier than ever for your computer to contract a virus, with at least 14 new viruses entering the market every day.

Some companies are even taking jabs at the PC industry for not being more proactive about the onslaught of unwanted viruses through spam. Apple Computer’s comedic Get A Mac advertising campaign, directed by Phil Morrison, takes a unique approach by personifying the issue. Actors Justin Long of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and John Hodgman of John Stewart’s The Daily Show interact with each other as “Mac and PC.” One specific ad mentions the over 114,000 known viruses for PCs; Macs have none.

In a recent issue of PC Magazine, Larry Seltzer reports on a movie file found on social-site MySpace that can cause adverse affects to a users computer, proving that spam can hit you anywhere.

Another growing issue through spam is identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft is any occurrence of stolen personal information used to commit fraud. Back in 2004, The CPA Journal’s Vinita M. Ramaswamy detailed just how large this problem really is, known as the fastest-growing crime in the United States. Citing an FTC report, Vinita said around 9.3 million people become victims, businesses lose over $52 billion, and almost 300 million hours are lost each year due to identity theft.

“Someone figured out my online banking information and emptied my entire savings account. I could barely stop crying when I found out,” said Laura Benevento, a San Jose State Student. With over 13 affected people per minute, the issue of stolen identity shows no signs of backing down.

In an article on MSNBC last month, senior producer Tony Maciulis said some spammers this season are even targeting the children with a “Letter from Santa.” It seems there’s just no limit to how far these people will go.

“I kept getting so much crap that I just deleted my email account and opened a GMail account,” said Desiree Miller, a local restaurant employee. GMail, created by search-engine giant Google, prides itself on an invite-only user base and as an alternative that receives much less junk than most other free services.

We always hear people talking about the “good ol’ days.” They tell us about how things used to be so much simpler, and how much more relaxed people were. Well, with billions of dollars flushed down the toilet every year because of spam, not to mention countless headaches, it’s pretty hard to disagree.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas in the Park

I decided it was time to post another one of my Update News stories! This one is my final project for Journalism 164 here at a SJSU.

Christmas in the Park is a yearly event in downtown San Jose. It has been non-profit since its first display 27 years ago. With over 450,000 projected visitors this year, there's no signs of it slowing down.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Universities and Emerging Forms of Journalism

Technology continues to shape and mold itself everyday. Just look at the past 25-30 years as an example. We've probably seen at least ten unique eras of technology. First there was the computer, large devices generally used for calculating mathematical equations. Next came along the personal computer, then the graphic user interface. And then laptops, the internet, and MP3 players began to make their way into the market. There's even huge variations within each of those markets.

All this to say: with evolving technology, responsibility falls on schools to keep up with changes, providing the newest and most advanced classes with current material.

Steve Sloan, a professor at San Jose State's Journalism program teaches a class that was recently redesigned for just such reasons. I'm not enrolled in the class, but from what I've heard it has come to be called "the podcasting class." Now, despite your view of the internet, blogging and podcasting have become giant media for journalists, as well as everyone else, to express their views. They provide an uncensored and direct outlet for all types of information: news, stocks, opinion, entertainment, or simply someone writing and talking about what they had for breakfast.

So many media corporations have become highly regulated to the point that it's hard to find any differences between them. With blogging, you have one person writing about what they feel, and no one else can incorporate their views in any way. In my opinion, this is a huge step forward in media and mass communications, as well as technology. Well done, interesting, and educated blogs will tend to succeed over the ones that, well... aren't.

I think Mr. Sloan is right. Let's keep up with the forefront of journalism. Let's stay ahead of the curve. Let's keep 163 the class that does this.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's only rock and roll, but (it makes hundreds of million of dollars so) I like it.

Billboard yesterday announced the Rolling Stones have once again claimed the title of "top-grossing tour of all time."

These guys have been rocking for a long time, and I mean really long. Mick and his crew aren't showing any signs of backing down either. They most recently held the title with their '94-'95tour 'Voodoo Lounge,' with over $320 million. However, Bono and his 'save the planet' band U2 topped this record with their '05-'06 Vertigo tour, as well as about 10 stadium makeup shows, bringing in just over $330 million with 121 shows.
Well, the old school rockers decided they were going to have none of that. Enter the Bigger Bang tour. Only 110 shows thus far with over $437 million. The band has already shattered U2's previous record and is looking to finish the tour early in 2007 with gross earnings to the tune of $500 million or more.

"I can't get no satisfaction?" Now come on Mick, things can't be that bad.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Just In: Microsoft's Zune is a Piece of Crap

Leave it up to Microsoft to give us too little WAY too late.

Microsoft's new Zune was supposedly going to valiantly march into the MP3 music scene boasting a huge feature list at an amazing price point - triumphing the competition. Microsoft was telling us, "There's no way you're going to be able to resist."

Well guess what, I'm resisting, and according to tech analysts, so is the rest of the world.

"Apple will not feel any bit of discomfort from Zune, certainly this holiday season and a good part of next year," said IDC analyst Danielle Levitas.

Many professionals reviewing the Zune have commented on how clunky the device is. It's unnecessarily large and weighs a good deal more than an iPod.

Sure some people will buy it, whether it's because of ignorance or just to spite Apple. But USA Today puts it best, in my opinion: "It's no iPod."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Two Titans of Rock

I recently attended one of the best concerts of my life. Two titans of rock, both of which have survived the test of time, together in one show. Aerosmith & Motley Crue.

Shoreline Amphitheater was packed. I don't think I've ever seen so many crazy screaming people in one place before. It was insane. The energy was unmeasurable, and the bands brought their A-Game.

When I was standing there, in the midst of all the screaming fans, I couldn't help but wonder - how powerful is music in our society? Hugely, I thought to myself, especially when I realized I was standing there watching two bands that started making music before I was born. And they could still bring in a crowd of over 20,000 fans. It was an amazing thought.

The two bands, after all these years, rocked the place like it was their first tour. They got the crowd involved and played flawlessly for hours, an amazing feat - especially considering the fact that some of these guys are older than my parents.

It got me thinking though. I wonder if music being made these days is going to be able to bring in huge crowds 30 years from now. What are the screaming 14-year-old girls going to do when Justin Timberlake is 55 and can't dance anymore? I guess we'll have to wait and see what the future brings.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Japanese-American Internment Memorial

Last week my 100w class took a trip over to the Japanese-American internment memorial over on 2nd an San Carlos. I learned a lot about our nations history, some of which I wasn't too happy to find out. Read on for more...

The Japanese American internment era is not something many people talk about these days. To be honest, I didn’t even know much of anything about it until I started the research for this project in my 100w class a little over a week ago. I knew it existed, I just wasn’t sure what it was or even where it took place. I was a little startled to learn all the details of it, and even more taken aback at how much of it took place in the heart of the Bay Area. Almost everything about it is painful to read, from families becoming separated from their fathers, to huge neighborhoods of Japanese-Americans being herded to horse stables to live. Calling this course of action taken by the government ‘inhumane’ is putting it kindly; ‘disgusting’ and ‘appalling’ would be a more valid choice of words.

Ruth Asawa, a local artist, the Japanese American Internment Memorial for display in San Jose. It was unveiled on 2nd and San Carlos in 1994, and remains there to this day. I hope it stays there for a long time to come. Asawa, who gained her foundation as an artist while interned at the Santa Anita race track in California, created the sculpture as a public memorial for the approximately 110,000 other Japanese Americans who were interned. In a way, I see this memorial as spoken not only by Asawa, but by so many Japanese Americans who lived the same nightmare she did.

The memorial contains two sides of extremely detailed vignettes in a sort of time line layout portraying Japanese American life.

The first vignette that really grabbed me was of the immigrants fist steps out of the immigration office. What an amazing and exhilarating moment this must have been for so
many people. I realize sometimes I take for granted how easy we have it. Traveling across the entire world can take a mere hours for me, whereas only a short time ago it could have taken months, if not longer. Entering the United States brought along a feeling of freedom, promise, and hope. I’m sure however, a large sense of uncertainty and nervousness must have accompanied the excitement as well. The United States must have seemed so foreign, and finding a job to survive and feed their families must have been extremely tough. It’s easy to see this in the first vignette on Asawa’s sculpture.

Another portion of the memorial I couldn’t help but notice was of the man being taken away by the F.B.I. This must have been terrifying for men who had to face this. I’m sure officials must have been very vague about where they were taking them, if they even said anything at all.

From the image, you get a sense the investigators treated people they were taking away as criminals, which seems so unfair to me. One great thing about our legal system is we presume innocence until proven guilty. I get the idea this was not the case back then. The government presumed, merely because of ones nationality, they could possibly be involved in a future attack on America. It really is heartbreaking to see how families were separated in this way. They were forced to either sell their belongings or, as shown in the memorial, burn whatever they had left. Does this sound like the America you know and love? It doesn’t to me either. Treating humans like animals is something that should NEVER be done, under any circumstance, I don’t care what the person has done. And the final vignette I noticed was portraying Americans as doing exactly that, treating these people like animals. Herded into the Santa Anita race track and forced to sleep in the stables, so many of these people became sick because of the overwhelming stench. Many were forced to live there for about six months. I can’t even imagine living there for six days, let alone half of a year. I don’tcare what anyone thought these Japanese Americans might be planning, no one deserves treatment like this, no one.

One question that has been raised since 9-11 is “Could something like the Japanese Internment happen again?” A small group of men from one nationality, claiming religion as their inspira
tion, were responsible for a devastating attack on the United States. I’ve seen so many Americans take a stand against the entire nationality. I believe the answer to the question is “Yes, but I hope it doesn’t.” American’s have a tendency to forget lessons of the past when they are angry today. I’m just as upset as the next person about the attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. I love this country, and would fight for it at any cost, if it meant that others could enjoy all the freedoms I have.

What I don’t believe though, is that we should hop on any bandwagon that comes along to throw bla
me on whomever we see fit. That simply shows ignorance and thoughtlessness. We need to become more aware that there’s a select group of people responsible, who may even be planning future acts of terror. We need to focus our energy on finding and stopping these people dead in their tracks, anything else would be a waste of time and an injustice to our nation and its citizens.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"Didn't even exist last year...

... but now it's what we need?!"

I heard this song the other day by Donovan Frankenreiter called "Heading Home." When listening to the lyrics I couldn't help but realize how much our Media & Society class related. We talk about how the media can shape us, how advertisers can convince us, and how society eats it all up.

If you've never heard this song, you should definitely pay the 99¢ on iTunes and listen to it.

Before you do though, it helps to know the background of the guys singing. To put it plainly, they live the life most of us can only dream of. They live in Hawaii, take exotic surf trips around the world, surf all day - every day, and write music, all while getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to do it.

But what's cool about these guys is they never tried to write popular songs and make tons of money, they just did what they love and it caught on.

The lyrics talk about a multitude of things I guess. The gist of the song is we shouldn't always believe what we're told. Get back to the basics, believe what you find out on your own, "You gotta go somewhere ya never gone."

Excessive cell phone use, computer viruses, world pollution, corrupt politicians, and war are about .01% of all the worries in the world, and those alone could take years to work out. What the song isn't trying to say though is ignore the problems of the world. It's simply raising the question, "What could you do to make the world a little simpler?" Any ideas...?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers - Review

It's always a great thing to step into a movie theater not knowing a single thing about the movie you're about to watch. That's exactly how it was when I went to go see "Flags of Our Fathers." I hadn't seen a preview, read a review, or even heard what the movie was about. If I had it my way, this is how I would see every movie. There's something about the unknown; there's no expectations, no predispositions, and just an open mind with nothing in the way.

Directed by Academy Award-Winner Clint Eastwood, the movie tells the true life story about the famous picture taken on Iwo Jima. From the opening scenes to the closing credits, the movie portrays a type of realism and trueness that few movies tend to portray these days. The movie didn't sugar-coat anything, and that's something I really appreciate from movies like this. War is not a time to take lightly. War isn't glamorous. To use the words of so many soldiers who have fought for our country, "War is Hell." This movie doesn't make any qualms with that statement, in fact, it drives home the fact that it's true.

The movie sheds light on the government as well, and it's incessant use of propaganda. Officials saw the picture of the soldiers hoisting the American Flag atop Mount Surbachi as a way to show victory, as a way to increase moral, and mostly - as a way to make money.

What was impressive to me, despite all this, was the integrity of the soldiers. No matter what happened, no matter how much media attention they received, they refused to view themselves as "heroes." They repeatedly said, "The real heroes are dead on that island." That's pretty moving, and shows a huge comradeship between them all. A line that stuck with me after seeing the movie went something like this: "Sure, we came here for our country. But when the fighting starts, all we're fighting for is each other."

That single statement pretty much summed up the tone of the movie. It's a moving film, with enough difference to make it stand out in a plethora of war movies. I believe seeing this movie will be a great deal more than just "worth your while."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

When you wanna get down...

Cocaine. A dangerously addictive drug... and an energy drink? That's right, but not for long. The relatively new energy drink, "Cocaine," was pulled off the shelves at 7-11 late last week after an uproar from parents claiming the drink "glamorizes illegal drugs."

I say who cares what it's called, it's the caffeine that's killing us, not the name. I recently saw this video on MSNBC. The story says this popular array of energy drinks contains three to FOUR times the amount of caffeine found in a regular coffee drink. It's ridiculous, this stuff is a drug and there's NO limit to how much can be sold.

Teens and young adults tend to be turning to caffeine more and more when they just don't have time for sleep. Completely unhealthy, and not very smart, the consumption of these energy drinks has seen an insane growth in popularity over the past year alone. What is it that makes us crave this stuff? Is the the caffeine alone, or the image that comes along with a hard, fast-paced, party-filled life?

Most energy drink companies name their products accordingly, Rockstar, Monster, Superman, No Fear, and now Cocaine.

One thing's for sure though, without my daily dose of caffeine, there would most definitely be days I wouldn't make it out of bed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Whatcha know about music?

What ever happened to good music. When did it all start sucking so hard? Sure, you'll find some bands here and there that spark your interest... but it's nothing like the days of classic rock, where bands like the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Van Halen, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourne, and the like were touring the world all at the same time. Am I the only one who sees this as a problem?

Styles of music have become so largely diverse, that it has created a sort of ridiculous plethora of horrible bands. I hear some of these newer bands on David Letterman or SNL and I feel like I want to puke. I find myself asking two questions. First of all, how would ANYone find satisfaction in listening to this untalented mess of noise; and secondly, why would an awesome first rate show even hire these guys to play?

Another trend I've noticed with new music is EVERYONE is depressed! I'm sorry, but did I miss the turning point in our society where life started sucking? Because I'm pretty sure we still live in the raddest country in the world, the sun still shines everyday I wake up in the morning, and as a band... you're allowed to frickin' ROCK! SO DO IT!

The message I commonly hear in classic rock, and other music coming out of that era, is "Let's have fun!" We're young, we're stoked, so let's party! Today in music it's "I'm so sad. I'm so depressed. I wanna give up. Why is it all so hard? I hate my life." Two words: LIGHTEN UP!

With an abundance of music coming through the airwaves, the message of the music is going to be heard... and it is being heard. I don't know about you... but when I hear music that's lame and depressing, I feel lame and depressed. (I'm sure it's the same for a lot of people). But when I hear music that's killer and rocking... I feel killer and wanna rock!

These bands portraying such a negative light on society today, believe it or not, do not hold the majority viewpoint of the youth in this generation. For some reason they're just the ones getting the spotlight, and who knows for what reason. The way this can change is by supporting bands you like. Don't put up with crap, there's SO much good stuff out there. It just needs to be brought to light. Let's have another era like the 60s and 70s, let's hear GOOD music on the radio again, but most of all... let's ROCK!

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Internet Is RAD!

One of the greatest things about the growing popularity of the Internet is that it allows virtually anyone to share their creations, opinions, and talents. It doesn't take a whole lot of money to start your own website, and depending on who you know and how well you market yourself, it doesn't take too much time to gain a little popularity.

The Internet is a dream come true for those who thrive on information. Magazines have been said to market themselves to very unique and particular audiences, creating a readership that will be loyal and consistent. Well, the internet takes this theory of specified marketing a whole step further with user based content. You'll see new sites and blogs popping up nearly every day containing information about nearly every subject under the sun.

"How does this benefit me," you may ask? Well, there's more content coming at you, more conveniently, from many different sources.

One such site is the fast-growing blog site ""

Created towards the beginning of September '06, theRadreport reports on current fashion trends, rock n' roll news, and celebrity gossip.

Founder, and current SJSU student, Eddie DaRoza describes the site: "Rad is a hard thing to pinpoint. What is rad today might be lame tomorrow. Media, culture, California: here is rad from the youth perspective."

The increasingly popular sight provides unique perspectives on news ranging from Paris Hilton's pot obsession to recently created rock star group, Supernova. There really is no limit to what you might come across on this site. One of it's hugest advantages over more mainstream blog sites is that there's nothing controlling or censoring what is or isn't posted on the page.

It's new creations like theRadreport that provide news and information that many twenty somethings find more relevant for their lifestyle than most other sources. Sure we'll still watch the news and glance at the paper from time to time, but when we're bored of the same old stuff, we'll log on to see... "What's rad today?"

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I'm up on Technorati, here's my profile: Technorati Profile

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Insurgent Sniper Video

This video is chilling, to say the least. Chilling. Long running in our profession has been the question of what is, and what is not, okay to show on television. I believe many would argue this is one of those things that should not. It's graphic, terrifying, and yet extremely informative. I know without a doubt this is sure to at least raise some eyebrows, it may even spark more of a response than that. Take a look for yourself with the question in mind, "If I were faced with the choice of airing this piece or not, what would I do? Why?" I did the same for myself, and found it to be a tougher decision than I originally had thought.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My "Top 3" List

Television is everywhere you look. Like it or not. Nearly every minute of everyday, no matter where you are, you can find a nearby remote and click it on. A very powerful medium, television provides content as meaningless as game shows like "The Price is Right," and yet can still give us programming as inherently relevant as in-depth news shows.

Nearly everyone will define "important" programming differently. But in my opinion, there's only 3 that really matter...
3. Family Guy

Now, this one is sure to raise some eyebrows. How can this show be one of the most important of all time? Well, to me it redefined humor as I knew it. Sure there were shows before Family Guy like The Simpson's, South Park, and King of the Hill. But really, they all pale in comparison.

With the off-the-wall, and sometimes offensive ideas this cartoon brings to life, nothing else could even come close to matching its humor and quick whit.
Created in 1999 for FOX by comic genius Seth MacFarlane, Family Guy, to this day, continues to push the boundaries of television, and it never accepts the status quo.

Offensive by many standards, Family Guy has taken nearly everything that is considered politically correct and essentially flipped it upside down, something all the other cartoons I previously named only pretend to do.

One of only a handful of shows ever to be canceled and then resurrected by the same network that canceled it, Family Guy makes it to my Top 3 without even the blink of an eye.

2. SNL - Saturday Night Live

Bringing countless television and movie stars to light, Saturday Night Live was an easy pick for my top three.

Containing sketches from some of America's funniest actors, debuting bands from all over the world, and boasting an amazing line-up of hosts, SNL is considered by many to be one of the greatest shows on television.

Since its debut in 1975, SNL has won 18 Emmys, a Peabody Award, and been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame by the National Association of Broadcasters. Spanning over 30 years, Saturday Night Live continues to grow and build on the amazing reputation it already has.

1. 60 Minutes

From the moment the show begins, you, as the viewer, hear the instantly recognizable "tick, tick, tick, tick." From square one, your interest is sparked. Whether you're cooking in the kitchen, doing the laundry, or on the other side of the house reading a book - you know "This...... is 60 Minutes."

The show was created in 1968 by John Hewitt and premiered on CBS, where it continues to air to this day.

Even with an ever-changing team of reporters, this show never fails to provide some of the most compelling in-depth stories spanning nearly every topic you can imagine. The news magazine won four Emmys during the '05-'06 season alone. It is the most successful broadcast in television history, reaching "Number 1" status five times.

It's shows like this, in my opinion, that we need to see more of on TV - a commitment to professional journalism, and always refusing to offer anything less than the full story. With an average of 14 million viewers a week and 78 total Emmy Awards, 60 Minutes ranks number one in my top three.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Howard Stern........ is a giant tool.

Yeah, so he's one of the highest paid radio personalties in the United States. Who cares. Personally I don't even know why people are interested in what this guy has to say. Who is he? Is he a former rockstar? Does he have some kind of background in anything that should give him credit? Is he a person that has vast, detailed, and profound views on ANYthing? NO! He's a friggin' radio DJ. Who even cares what he has to say. Unfortunately for the world, enough people to give him his own 24 hour a day Satellite radio show, apparently.

Approaching 30 years of radio experience, Stern knows the business. He has connections with some of radio and televisions largest names. He can literally talk about anything he wants on his show, especially now - since he's moved to a subscription-based and censorship-free medium. But the sad thing is - he talks about garbage all the time. And I'm not just referring to the offensive material that turns so many listeners away. I'm talking about nearly all of the extremely vacuous topics that the show covers. His show, in my opinion, is extremely mindless, and shows a huge lack of planning and forethought. The whole thing, from start to finish, is a giant waste of time.

Personally, if I'm gonna listen to a radio show, especially one as mind-numbing as Howard Stern's, I would rather be listening to someone with some character - like David Lee Roth (former front man of Van Halen) or Steven Tyler (Aerosmith). Howard Stern is essentially a nobody who, somehow, made it big. But this is America. And the fact that such a giant tool, such as Howard Stern, can make it big, is just one of the many things that makes this Country so rad.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kazan Hits the Road with Lonesome Rhodes...

Coming up on it's 50th Anniversary, the beloved tale about a hobo who makes it big time will be released as a special edition DVD by this holiday season. "A Face in the Crowd." The movie tells us a story about a humble roots jail bird, Larry Rhodes, who doesn't need much but his friends and his trusty guitar, "A guitar beats a woman every time," he'd sing out.

A simple man, without need for much of anything, Larry was suddenly "discovered" by media savvy woman Marcia Jeffries during one of his stays in Jail. She had a plan for him and there wasn't anything that was going to get in her way.

"Lonesome Rhodes," as he so fondly came to be called, was an overnight media sensation. The radio audience loved him. He could talk for hours and ladies and gents alike would sit and listen, loving every minute of it. He began airing in commercials, supporting various products... whatever he put his name behind succeeded. Wherever he went, the crowd was sure to follow.

In no time, he graduated from radio to television - bringing himself even more success. Standing behind larger companies, such as VitaJex - a brand that wasn't selling much of anything until Rhodes began endorsing it, writing a song about "VitaJex! What are you doing to me!" He sold people on a pill that really had no effect whatsoever. He had the power to persuade and he knew it. He knew it all too well. "This whole country's just like my flock of sheep! Hillbillies, hausfraus - everybody that's got to jump when someone else blows a whistle! They're mine!"

You could tell by the start of his fame, it was only a matter of time before the whole thing went straight to his head. And not too much longer before his true self would be exposed to the public. And that's just what did happen, with the simple slide of a volume control, his life would change forever...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Update News

I recently finished this story for my Journalism 164 class. The story is about students who commute to San Jose State from various locations. Our school has been labled by many as a 'commuter school.' Some think this is a good thing - providing diversity. However, some students feel that if they had a choice - they would drop the commuting in a second.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Simply Entitled

When deciding which magazine I wanted to review for today's post, I felt like I wanted something that would be different. I wanted something that would not be filled with tons of ads. I wanted something that would be extremely specific, yet unobtrusively unique. I stumbled upon the magazine you see here to the right amongst my ever growing magazine collection. It's simply entitled "BMW Magazine."

Now, obviously most everything in here is extremely biased writing. In a sense it's a magazine full of reasons why you should buy a BMW. Some may even call it a large advertisement in a strange way. There's information about the cars, the racing team, designers, merchandise, and even a piece on their sailing team.

However, contrary to what one may think, it's more than just one large smorgasbord of BMW propaganda.

Some of the writing you will read between the covers of this magazine will blow your mind. Vivid imagery, fluid transitions, and poetic descriptions are only a few of the many things that seem to bring these pages to life.

The quarterly publication is clearly aimed at BMW enthusiasts, but most everyone can benefit from reading merely a few of these pages... especially those who enjoy brilliant writing.

BMW Magazine is sent out free to its subscribers, and is mostly self-funded. However, unlike most magazines the advertising is done much differently. Today, most periodicals, quarterlies, and even weeklies are laden with full page advertisements - some with as much as 70%. I counted 13 ads in this 100 page quarterly. That's a mere 13%. BMW has obviously focused on this magazine as an advertising expense for the company, and doesn't want it peppered with countless other ads to take away from their show. From the readers viewpoint, the is most definitely a plus.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Two words: Yeah Right!

I stumbled upon this article the other day and couldn't help but chuckle to myself a little. If I had a nickle for ever chump that came along with ill-produced 'facts' predicting Apple's doom, well, I wouldn't have to be doing this homework assignment right now 'cause I'd be rich. Why is it that when something becomes so big, triumphs all odds, and shatters all sales records ever to come out of the industry; people have to get up on their soapbox predicting imminent defeat?

With over 80% of the portable MP3 player market share, Apple's iPod isn't going to be 'losing its cool' anytime soon.

The article lists history of outdated portable music players including the Sony Walkman. We all know why the Walkman went the way of the recycle bin, because it played CASSETTE TAPES! So unless this genius thinks MP3 media is going to be replaced by some new miracle compressed audio format, other than AAC, then his basis for the entire article is pretty much unfounded.

The author writes, "Apple's signature pocket device with white earphones may simply have become too common to be cool." That's the worst logic I've ever heard in my life. The very reason the iPod is as commonplace as it is today is partially because of its cool factor.

He predicts sales falling at an unprecedented rate. Sure they were falling, it had been nearly six months since Apple had updated the iPod product line. This is a simple business model that elementary school students should be able to understand... How this guy is writing a news article with such frail supporting information is beyond me.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Newspapers... why?

When asked to post about online versus print news, I was actually pretty interested to complete the assignment. I've always looked down on newspapers. They're large, bulky, and cumbersome... not to mention the fact that your hands are covered with ink when you're finished with 'em. How old fashioned can you get? And another thing: why does it seem like whenever I pick up a newspaper and start reading headlines, I'm not learning anything NEW!? It seems to me that everything I'm reading happened yesterday.

So needless to say, I entered into this assignment with a somewhat biased viewpoint.

As you've probably guessed by now, I don't have a newspaper subscription, so I decided to bring some change with me to school and pick up the day's edition of the San Jose Mercury News. I cruised over to the nearest newspaper stand, pumped in my twenty-five cent-ers, grabbed a copy and was on my way. Seemed harmless enough... I was actually quite satisfied with the experience. Until I took a few steps to a close-by park bench and actually started to dive into the thing. All hell broke loose as I opened up the paper and advertisements, entertainment guides, and a million other little leaflets began dumping all over the ground and blowing away with the wind. And you thought pop up ads were annoying... As I scrambled to gather up all my little runaways, I eyed a trash can a few steps away. I turned immediately and tossed my new papery friends into the giant circular file. Okay, back to today's news. One thing I actually did like about the paper was the layout of the front page. It was very easy to see what was most important today (according to the editors), and you could tell what was in the rest of the paper, at a glance, by scanning down the sidebar on the left hand side. However, finding the story within the paper was a completely different task. Folding, unfolding, flipping over, setting aside, and getting pretty close to giving up were just a few things that came along with 'reading the news.' After about twenty minutes of this, I really did feel like I read a few good stories. But there was plenty of information I came across that I already knew: sports scores, weather forecasts, stock reports, and even some of the front page stories.

Well, I decided I was done with that for a while; so I stuffed my newspaper, with my ink-laden hands, inside my backpack and was on my way. Mission: accomplished.

A few hours later, after I had finished my day at school, it was time to go the online way. I pulled my nice compact little iBook out and logged on. Within seconds, I was on the Mercury's website. In order to view some complete stories they asked me to log-in, and after I did so I was on my way. It was clean, concise, up to date, and ink free! Could it get any better? Within no time at all I noticed the first difference. Remember those main headlines I read just that morning in the newspaper? Well now, only a few hours later on the website, they were bumped down to give room to NEWER, more important happenings. Meanwhile, that same newspaper was being purchased all over town as 'news!' I felt sorry for the people who might have just then, at that moment, been pumping in their quarters to a newspaper stand for outdated information.

The website was much easier to navigate than the giant newspaper. With only a click here or a click there, I was reading stories that I wanted in seconds. I didn't have to sort through a bunch of articles side by side. I didn't have to pull open and unfold a bunch of pages. I clicked, I read, and I was informed. No fuss. No muss. Just 100% news absorption.

Although the two experiences were drastically different, there were a couple similarities to note as well. First of all, the front page of the website was actually laid out quite similar to the newspaper. Main stories and large headlines were in the middle with a large typeface, and the sidebar on the left with different sections was there too. Instead of having to turn pages though, you just had to click anything in that sidebar and your were taken to your page, instantly. The online version contained ads as well. However, they didn't jump out of the website and scatter all over the ground sending you in a mad anti-littering dash. They stayed neat and tidy somewhere on each page. They left you alone as long as you didn't bother them. And that's the way we liked it.

Overall, there were two main differences I noticed between the two forms of media. First was user friendliness. There was just no comparison with how easy and painless the website was to navigate, read, and view. The second was timeliness. Sure some of the stuff in the newspaper was 'new to me,' but who are we kidding... none of the information was actually 'new.'

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What if the Internet were a real place?

The other day I was relaxing in front of the television enjoying an extremely humorous episode of Chappelle's Show. Now, if you've ever seen the show before you know firsthand that Dave Chappelle brings an element of truth into each of his sketches, shedding comedic light on all sorts of topics. From Lil' John to a blind African-American white supremacist, there really is no limit as to how far this show will go. This particular sketch stood out to me because it was about something most of us deal with nearly every day: the Internet. Most businesses today would barely stay alive without it. Most students use it all the time, whether it be for homework, entertainment, or staying in touch with friends. However, sometimes there's a lot of scum we have to sort through before we can actually get what we need. Sure it's annoying, but it's there... and there's nothing we can do about it. Right? Well, what if the Internet were a real place, and not just something we could close with the click of a button? Would we stick around as long as we do? Would we drudge through miles of crap to get our information? I think it wouldn't be tolerated as much as it is today. We'd definitely see many more guidelines and regulations, and would probably not have nearly the amount of information at our fingertips as we do now. But would it be worth it? You be the judge...

Chappelle's Show
If the Internet Was a Real Place
Buy Chappelle's Show DVDsBlack ComedyTrue Hollywood Story

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Propoganda in Society

It may be much more often than we realize that we come in contact with some type of propaganda. It is described by Wikipedia as, "a specific type of message presentation directly aimed at influencing the opinions or behavior of people, rather than impartially providing information." When I think of propaganda, one thing in particular jumps out in my mind: Political Ad Campaigns. With mud slinging so blatant you can almost taste it, these TV, radio, or print ads are the lowest of the low, in my opinion. With virtually zero neutrality and only one viewpoint, these ads are definitely NOT aimed at helping the voter make an informed and non-bias vote specifically based on the issues. They're all about "who did this," and "who did that." After a certain point, I just feel like NONE of the candidates are good enough for the job. With accusations of "Flip-Flopping" on the issues, low attendance records, or even some deep dark secret in their past, there really is no limit as to how low these ads will go.

As a voter myself, I know that when I make a decision I like to know what the candidate stands for. What are their beliefs, where do they stand on the issues, and what are their plans while in office? I could care less about who can sling the most mud at an opposing official. If anything, I would NOT vote for someone just because of their inability to stick with this issues. A good old fashioned debate is what I'd like to see.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From Start to Finish

Books to me, and the memories they spark, will stay with me for the rest of my life. Although I don't read as much as I'd like to these days, whenever I find the time to actually sit down and start reading I am reminded of why reading makes me feel the way it does. Something about it enlightens you, challenges you, and touches your heart. It can make you happy, sad, angry, frustrated, confused, or simply comforted. I'll never forget the first book I read from start to finish: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I had never found so many thoughts and ideas flying throughout my mind and soul during the course of that reading than I had throughout my entire life. My mind was instantly taken away from the world I was in and placed right inside the mind of Huck Finn. I was mesmerized literally after the first five minutes. I couldn't explain the feeling it gave me, it was something I never knew existed. It wasn't like a movie, it wasn't like listening to music, and it definitely wasn't like watching TV. "It's only words on paper," I said to myself. How could something so dull and lifeless have so much intellectual flavor. I was surprised, in the best way possible. I'll never forget, I was so enriched in this book that I had turned my room into a giant fort with pillows and blankets everywhere... I was Huck Finn and I was the one embarking on all the adventures. In my opinion, no other form of media can do that. Sure we'll pass books down to our young ones and relatives, but that's not what is important. What's important is that we'll be giving them something that will feed their mind and soul in ways that an afternoon in front of the TV set could never even dream of accomplishing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

That ol' ball and chain...

Without the record companies, many musicians would be left without the big advertising dollars that come along with those record contracts. But what about the bright side: freedom to do what you want. Along with those big dollars, record companies also initiate a lot of control into the creative aspects of a band. The sound, the image, the attitude,; in short... the things that make a band a band.
Without a record company dragging me down, what would I do to get my music to my fans? How would I make the money to keep on keepin' on? Well, the answer to me seems quite simple: to the fans! As a musician, you have to be willing to travel to where the interest is. Back in the Jazz days when American music was making it's burst into the popular scene, musicians would go on "tour," as it were, to make a name for themselves. Nicknamed the "Chitland Circuit," artists would make stops in every little town they could and play gigs. Back then there was no such thing as record companies like we know them today, so people had to just get out there and make their stuff known.

Without a record company today. We would see things much similar now as they did then. We'd see a larger variety of music, we'd see more hardworking artists, we'd see passion in music, we'd see more art, and less of an industry. Technology these days allows even the smallest of bands to record their own stuff with decent sound. Many beginning artists sell their music for cheap or even give it away for free to create a buzz. The larger the band gets, the more people would be willing to pay for these CDs or MP3s at live shows or events.

So in the end, although we'd see much less grandiose shows and pristine music recordings, we would see and hear much more music from the hands of the artists... and that's what music was meant for in the first place, right?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is...

We've all had that debate. You know, the one that never ends in any type of solution. Let's just call it "To steal, or not to steal." "But wait now", you might say, "who says it's stealing in the first place?" Well believe it or not, downloading just one song off any Peer to Peer application is literally by law considered stealing. Ripping one song off of a friends CD is by law considered stealing. People have been charged, and convicted of "stealing music."

Long gone are the days when Napster was originated. Every song you could even think of... even if you had never owned the CD in your life... it was yours for the taking... free of charge. Gone were the days of having to buy a whole CD for that one single you loved... gone were the days where you couldn't preview before you buy. Right? Wrong.

Within only a short time, Napster was taken to trial and found guilty of copyright infringement by record companies. Napster was shut down almost immediately following. The bandwagon of "music for free" advocates were livid. "You mean I actually have to PAY for my music again?"

Well in a sense, they never were 'allowed' by any law to download artists' material free of charge. It's always been exactly what it is now: stealing.

So where is Napster now? Are there legal alternatives to 'stealing?' And most importantly, what can I do if I still feel like stealing? Because let's be honest... sometimes a song really just isn't worth paying for right?

Well Napster is back (owned by software company Roxio), and believe it or not, bigger than ever. With a two million song catalog and over 500,000 paying subscribers... it definitely is a player in the online music scene. For $14.95 a month, you can download an unlimited amount of those 2,000,000 songs and have access to them all offline. There is a very large 'but,' however. The very second you stop paying that monthly fee... POOF! Your entire music library you so diligently downloaded is now no longer yours.

Many critics believe that this is what makes other music stores so much more appealing. No subscription service, download what you want, and OWN it forever. Some would rather keep stealing with programs like LimeWire, Kazaa, and the like.

Although the saga is far from over, many believe Napster is still far from the top and has quite a lot of catching up to do before it's considered a threat to other music stores like Apple Computer's iTunes.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Advertising Age - The Emmys

I recently finished reading Simon Dumenco's humorous account of various Emmy campaign mailings. In short, he described these mailings as desperate, uninformative, and sometimes just plain tacky. I couldn't agree with him more. The tactics some campaigners took reminded me of politicians, only worse - a lot worse. At least politicians tend to include some type of information about WHY they think you should vote for them. These Emmy campaigns included cheesy packaging, cliché notes, and lots of free stuff. The Emmys, in my opinion, should be awarded to those with the best acting performance, not to the one who simply can mail out the most goodies to the voters.

The point Dumenco made in the article, however, provided a great explanation. Award shows in general, let alone the Emmys, are beginning to lose popularity amongst viewers. The scheduling of the awards show, according to experts, couldn't have been made at a worse time. So although campaigners were reduced to near tele-marketer status, one may still be able to sympathize with the challenges associated with the widespread lack of interest.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Access Magazine

I actually wasn't planning on picking up the new issue of Access today. However, I happened to find myself with some free time in between classes and spotted an issue sitting on a table nearby. I said to myself, "Eh, why not? I don't really have much better to do..." So yeah, I picked it up and began to peruse. The first article I read was entitled "Hyphy Goes Holy." Now I'm at least a little interested and/or intrigued with this whole Bay Area pride thing coming out of Oakland and making its way through the rap scene. The article shed some light on a band taking a new approach to hyphy... which, in my small understanding of the subject, means going crazy when your hyped up on drugs and alcohol. The group, O.R.C., encourages a clean and drug-free alternative to the hyphy scene. The article was well written and told the story very well.

Next I flipped over to the "Addicted to Myspace" article and couldn't help but laugh. The article did an excellent job of telling the Myspace story and made me question a few of my own Myspace happits as well. While also providing me with some sort of sick and twisted hope knowing I'm not the only one who has an addiction.

Overall I got a great feeling from the magazine. I've read issues in the past and was less than inspired from most of the stories. I felt like this time the writers did their research and went the extra mile to get the good story and do the job well. Good work Access team! Keep it up!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What type of media consumer are you?

Media to me can mean a multitude of things. From the music that wakes me up in the morning, to the commercials I see on TV, or even the movies I watch during the weekend; they surround me in pretty much every aspect of my life. The various types of media can enrich our lives just as well as they can hinder it. Often much of the information we need can be right at our fingertips. WIth a single click of a button we can read stock reports on the internet, find out when and where our favorite movies are playing, discover the history of our country, read about the latest news, or even type to friends across the world. But when does it become too much, when do we lose our connection with the real world and become lost in a craze of technological 'conveniences?' In this class, as I delve in to the realm of media and how it affects me and the society I live in, I hope to gain a better understanding of how and why it affects so many of us the way it does...