Nominated for an Oscar this year in the animated short category, Logorama is a 15 minute film that’s a cross between Pulp Fiction and 2012, with lots of violence and NSFW dialogue, and exists in a world made of nothing but well-known corporate logos. Let’s hope it wins.

http://www.garagetv.be/v/S5k!wUapp7BV2oONHOYgA0fA3kKn7cvwkWO59OBMBBswSNtey-igvNmRlbFFQLab-z/v.aspxKlik hier om het video filmpje te bekijken

PS: How awesome is it that we get to watch nominated short films for free online? (via artlung and TCJ)

Does Amazon enable comment spam?

Comment spam has been around for many years now and I've seen all the tricks of the trade blasted at me and my sites. Lately, it's gotten tougher and tougher to weed out every last bit of spam because it's clear comment spammers are hiring people to write somewhat on-topic comments and then loading either their username or the comment with links to their sites (which are loaded with ads).

Here's an example of what I'd call a high quality comment spam:

Screen shot 2010-02-20 at 8.33.28 AM
It's on topic, it seems like an innocuous pat on the back in broken english, but the username links to a video game fan site. The comment was posted to get a backlink to their site. Sometimes they copy and paste two sentences from my own post as a new comment, but usually it's a mellow "this is a good post" comment meant to fall under my radar and eventually improve their Google ranking for whatever keyword they are chasing.

I started thinking about how people are farming out this "make an innocuous comment and link back to my site" work and I was reminded of Amazon's Mechanical Turk system where you pay humans to perform piecemeal work, often for mere pennies. A couple years ago, ReadWriteWeb noticed somewhat spammy activity on the Turk system so I decided to run the same searches today and found similar results.

  • 29 results for "bookmark" including people asking for comments on their site and posting their site to every social bookmark system, some paying as little as a penny per job.
  • 42 results for "comment" including lots of rate and comment my youtube videos up, test our comment system, and flat out "leave a good comment on my site" jobs.
  • 18 results for "digg" including people asking digg votes as well as posting their site to digg for them.
  • 13 results for "write a paragraph" These frequently become posts on adsense-loaded sites and other SEO nonsense.

I'm sure there are bigger sites that enable these kind of bottom-feeder transactions on the web. I bet there are whole black hat SEO forums and marketplaces to buy links, comments, and articles, but it's kind of a shame that two years after ReadWriteWeb pointed out the problems they still persist. I love using Amazon as a customer and I think the Mechanical Turk system is pretty cool, I just wish they did a better job eradicating this kind of thing that leads me to have to judge all my incoming comments harshly as defaulting to spam unless they seem like honest additions to the conversation.

Not what it says on the tin

I'm walking down the snacks aisle at Costco today during our bi-annual trip and I couldn't help but notice the extreme sizes of chip bags. You can buy several pounds of tortilla or corn chips in bulk, but there's one bag at the end of the aisle that jumps out at me for its sheer size and girth. The bag is about the size of my torso, maybe three feet tall by one foot wide and my jaw is dropping at inane and insane name they've come up with to market such a snack:

Sensible Portions

Streaming iPhone video

M7 Air Video is an amazing app I have wished for but never thought I’d see actually happen, given the App Store’s dodgy rules about approving applications like this.

The other day I had a bit of insomnia, noticed my phone on my nightstand and wondered to myself if there was any hack, any way I could somehow stream videos from my desktop computer downstairs (both downloaded video and iTunes movies/shows). I was just thinking about trying out some media server apps to see if I could make it work when I saw this pop up on Lifehacker today. I’ve downloaded, installed, and gotten this app to work wonderfully. You can even jump ahead to different parts of a streaming movie and it’ll render in just a few seconds.

It’s a pretty handy app if you use one desktop computer as a “base” for a media center with other devices (like AppleTV, iPhone, etc) talking to it. Plus, you don’t have to take up any space on your iPhone (and I guess iPad eventually) with the movie itself, as it is just streamed in real time. 

I haven’t tested remote access outside my network, but if I could stream a new show from home to an iPhone sitting in my hotel room while traveling, I would say we’re truly living in the future now.

My recommended kid games

It started out innocuously. We were waiting for a table at a restaurant, my daughter was about two years old and fidgeting. I checked the App Store on my iPhone for a kid genre, found a fake phone game, and let her go to town on it. It saved the day and bought us 20 min of quiet time. Since then I've downloaded a lot of games and educational apps for my daughter (who is now four and a half) and I've been meaning to write up the ones I think are worth a few bucks and have stood the test of time, and here they are.

Kid games screen

This is my "Kid Games" screen of my iPhone that I go to when I find myself somewhere with my daughter and we're both bored. This happens sporadically in doctors offices, in lines while running errands, and most often at a restaurant. I'll quickly recap each one here with an appropriate age range after.

Fairy Trails — Augmented Reality for Kids! If you have a newer iPhone 3GS, this is a game that initializes the camera and you pan around the room, clicking the screen when you see a fairy fly by. It's pretty simple and kind of silly but can entertain kids for longer than you think (3-5 years).

Brushes — fairly advanced drawing tools than can trip up younger users (by them accidentally zooming out or in), but for general drawing works pretty good (3-12+ years).

iPlayPhone — the first kid game I downloaded. Mostly just a noisemaker for the youngest to mash on without messing up your phone (6mo-2 years)

Ballonimals — Pretty fun virtual ballon animal game from IDEO. You blow in the mic to make an animal, tap it to make it dance, then explode it by over-inflating. Good fun (2-6 years)

DinoMixer — It's a mix and match game of dinosaurs, with about a dozen different animals in three parts plus different foregrounds and backgrounds. Fun and a good learning experience (3-10 years)

TicTacToe — there are about 100 different TicTacToe apps in the App Store but this one allows for WiFi play, which I've done with my daughter using another iPod Touch. Good times (3-10 years)

ZenGarden — a really great simple "drawing" app where there is no color or brushes to choose from, you just push a line in the sand, and shake for a new blank canvas. Perfect for young artists (1-4 years)

Heat Pad — much the same as ZenGarden, you just drag a finger across and colors change, this one is a fake "heat map" based on how long your finger stays in place. Gets old kind of quick, I've found (1-4 years)

Cute Math — A nice basic number identification, counting, and eventually basic addition/subtraction app. (2-6 years)

LunchBox/WhenIGrowUp — Both THUP games come from a developer that is a member of MetaFilter where I heard of them. Great pre-school games, one is basic number and color identifier, the other is basically dressing up a monkey. My daughter loves both. (2-6 years)

AnimalMatch — My daughter loves Memory card-matching games and this one offers flexible grids of different sizes/difficulty. There was a time she wanted to play this for hours (2-6 years)

Let's Color — A Curious George/PBS app, this is just a paint-bucket coloring book style app. If your child is a fan of the show, they will like it (2-4 years)

DoodleBuddy — Amazing drawing app that is free(!) in the App Store, and is perfectly between something full-featured like Brushes and simpler apps. It even offers collaborate WiFi drawing between iPhones/iPods as well. It's worth $5 even though the basic version is free (3-10 years)

Pickin Time — Fun simple reaction-time game where you click on fruits/veggies as fast as you can. Works well when competing among several people to see who gets the highest score but game gets old quick (3-10+ years)

I've tried dozens more and deleted them all when my daughter grew out of them or no longer found them interesting. These have stood the test of time and lasted several months to several years, and most are just a buck or so.

Though I wouldn't suggest using these to ignore your kid or thinking that you just have to have them around all the time (crayons and paper are usually a bigger hit than an iPhone) these apps have come in handy when there's been dead time to fill and nothing to play with.

Break Bread for Brad

Mark your calendars for Break Bread For Brad at this year’s SXSW Interactive Festival. Friday March 12th, 5pm-8pm at the Mohawk.

It’s not a wake, but a celebration, and hopefully we can continue the welcome gathering to open SXSW in future years. All who knew (or even knew of) Brad are welcome.

Fantastic body boarding video

The video game-like surfing video of Matt Meola blew minds a few months ago and I'd say there are some sections of this body boarding video that come close, where guys are absolutely hucking themselves out of waves and doing some pretty insane barrel rolls on monster waves. It's filmed beautifully too.