Sunday, January 29, 2012

"wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka"

Pac-Man (Pakkuman) is an arcade game developed by Namco and licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway, first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. Immensely popular from its original release, Pac-Man is considered one of the classics of the medium, virtually synonymous with video games, and an icon of 1980s popular culture. Upon its release, the game—and, subsequently, Ms. Pac-Man became a social phenomenon that sold a bevy of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten hit single. 
When first launched, the game received a lukewarm response, as Space Invaders and other similar games were more popular at the time. However, the game found far more success in North America. Pac-Man's success took competitors and distributors completely by surprise in 1980. Marketing executives who saw Pac-Man at a trade show prior to release completely overlooked the game.

Pac-Man caught on immediately with the public; it quickly became far more popular than anything seen in the game industry up to that point. Pac-Man outstripped Asteroids as the best-selling arcade game in North America, where it would sell more than 350,000 arcade cabinets (retailing at around $2400 each) for $1 billion (equivalent to over $2.3 billion in 2011) within 18 months, and gross over $1 billion in quarters within a year, surpassing the revenues grossed by the highest-grossing film Star Wars.

Towards the end of the 20th century, the game's total gross in quarters had been estimated at more than 10 billion quarters ($2.5 billion), equivalent to over $3.4 billion in 2011, making it the highest-grossing video game of all time.

Now ask yourself: how many quarters have you pumped into a video game or pinball machine in your lifetime? Forget about the money, how much of your life have you spent standing in front of one of those arcade cabinets? I think that if we all would answer honestly, we all spent way too much of our precious time and money on that little hussy, Ms. Pac-Man.

Today, instead of pumping quarters into an arcade cabinet, we trade our time on this planet for watching sidebar advertisements via Facebook, Google or Twitter. There is no slot for quarters on the side of our HDTV in the living room. Today, if you watch 60 minutes of broadcast TV, you will see over 20 minutes of paid advertising. We traded up; we went from video arcade cabinets that were insatiable for quarters for the newer “free” arcade cabinets of today – our laptops, iPads, iPhones and flat screen TVs all connected to the Internet.

Years ago, when you ran out of quarters, you were done. Video arcades were not open 24 x 7 and you had to drive or walk or ride your bike to get to them. Or, there was a line at the game; you could watch others play but you could not play the game yourself. When you did get your turn, you could not play forever; you had to stop at some point, even if that point only came when you ran out of money. You went home, and you did something else.

Today, there is no stopping, and there is no waiting in lines. You don’t need money, and you don’t need to leave the house. There is nothing to protect us from our own bad behavior, like the running out of quarters. You can just keep on going and going and going……consuming more and more and more. Just like Ms. Pac-Man.

"wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka wacka

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What time is the game on?

A month ago, the notion that the Giants would play in the NFC Championship Game this weekend was as far-fetched as their coach Tom Coughlin canceling practice and instructing his players to just show up for the game on Sunday.

But the Giants owned one very vital commodity – control of their postseason destiny. All they had to do to make the playoffs was win. And that’s exactly what they’ve done. They dispatched the Jets and Cowboys in the final two regular season games to win the division title and Atlanta and Green Bay to open the postseason. The margin of victory in each of the four games was at least 15 points, the first time the Giants have done that since their surge to the championship to close the 1986 season.

Twenty-one years ago today, the Giants defeated the 49ers, 15-13, in an NFC Championship Game in Candlestick Park. A week later, they defeated Buffalo in Super Bowl XXV. It seems like only yesterday - were does the time go?

The first thing I did this morning was to go to to find out what time the games were on today – especially the Giants game. *I already knew the time of the big game, I was just double-checking. I also put it on my Google Calendar, alerting the outside world that I would not be available during this critical time. When things are really important to you, you might even triple check. When things are really important, you make time for them.

You give but little when you give of your possessions. 
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

I just planned my day (my entire weekend) around the Giants game. Mentally, I was thinking about this Giants 49ers game for days, but now - today - it’s serious: I am using the Internet. I set a reminder on my Google calendar, and I tweeted on it, and I posted about it on Facebook. Everyone that knows me at all now has a keen insight as to my plans to watch the game – the BIG game today.

Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. 
That’s why we call it "the present".
The Giants will win today - no question. This means a trip to the Super Bowl. That will be my “present”. The 46th Super Bowl will take place on February 5th, 2012. Kickoff time is scheduled for 6:30EST / 5:30 CST on NBC.  You can start planning your Giant’s Super Bowl party here
The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.
I recently had a friend from Canada visit New York City for a convention. We talked for weeks about getting together in New York. We chatted about how much we were looking forward to meeting in the city – for lunch, for dinner, for drinks – or even just for coffee. We both had access to more scheduling tools then you can shake a stick at, all just to “make it happen”. Cell phones, emails, twitter, texts, Facebook, Skype, online calendars, etc.  We had access to more collaboration and time management tools - more technology than it took to create and air the iconic Apple® Super Bowl ad in 1984. And yet, the New York City convention came and went, and we never had our live, in-person meeting. We did not take the necessary steps - we did not make the time for it. I just spent more time planning my TV time for the Giants 49ers game, than I did to meet my friend for real, human interaction. And now, we are chatting about it, emailing about it, and now - no one is happy about missing this opportunity to grow our frieindship.
In football, clock management is an important aspect of game strategy. The team who holds the lead in the game will want to use as much time as possible, while the team that is trailing will want to conserve time so that there is enough to try to score. There are dozens of books written on Football Clock Management.
“Lost time is never found again” ~ Benjamin Franklin

My technology epiphany today is to realize how much time and money we spend every day on making money and managing time.  When something is important to you, you will always find the time – you will MAKE the time for it.  Being busy is not an excuse; we are all busy. We all have access to cell phones, computers, email, and social media tools. Maybe my friend and I should have used to coordinate our date in NYC. Heck, I might even have an old fashioned paper calendar still laying around the house somewhere. When it is important enough to you, you will make the time for it.

How many of the tools, toys, and modern gadgets that you use every day, are really designed to help you to do more, with less?  What are you doing with all of that “time” that you are saving?  It is easy see how “time management” is so important in sports. Time management can’t be more important to the world of sports, than it is to our everyday lives, right?

I am going to take my wife to lunch, and I am not going to watch any TV today.  I will also find the time to take my best friend Bella for a nice, long walk. Yeah, that's the ticket.  No TV time for me today. Until the afternoon.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Technology: it’s only natural

I always blog on Sundays. And, I always make sure that my blogs have a “technology” theme. My blogs use the power of the Internet to talk about technology and to reinforce how we all need to embrace and master technology.  Well, here’s the kicker: as soon as you are finished reading this blog, you should turn off your computer, turn off your cell phone and just about any other “making life better through technology” device and go for a walk. Read on, if you want to share my epiphany.

The Luddites were a social movement of 19th-century English textile artisans who protested – often by destroying mechanized looms – against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work and changing their way of life. The movement emerged in the harsh economic climate of the Napoleonic Wars and difficult working conditions in the new textile factories. The principal objection of the Luddites was to the introduction of new wide-framed automated looms that could be operated by cheap, relatively unskilled labor resulting in the loss of jobs for many skilled textile workers. Mills and pieces of factory machinery were burned by handloom weavers, and for a short time Luddites were so strong that they clashed in battles with the British Army. In modern usage, "Luddite" is a term describing those opposed to industrialization, automation, computerization or new technologies in general.

How does this thing called technology happen anyway?  I mean, how did mankind go from learning how to walk upright, to exploring space? For sake of time, I’ll speed up the timeline:
·         Man, this walking upright stuff is cool! No more dragging knuckles on the ground for me!
·         Hey, this walking around on two legs stuff is hard work. That thing over there with four legs (the domesticated horse) seems to love walking and running. I think I will try to catch it and tame it and then I can ride around on its back.
·         Maybe I can make a type of wagon (the wheel) and pull it behind a bunch of horses with all of my friends inside (the stagecoach). 
·         Man, that steam engine thing is really cool; I wonder if it is powerful enough to pull a whole bunch of stagecoaches all linked together (the train).
·         Trains are really cool, but I really wish I could go anywhere, at any time, not just forced to stay on these train tracks (the automobile).
·         Cars and trucks are great, but those birds really seem to have it made (the airplane). And so it goes…..
When did the first cavemen decide to kill that thing with the nice warm coat of fur, because running around naked was just not getting it done? Or make the first pair of shoes, because walking barefoot on the sharp rocks was too painful? There had to be a better way.  Fast forward to today: NYC and 5th Avenue Shopping.

When did man get the first idea to cook his food over an open flame? I wonder if the first “steak” was cooked medium rare? But more importantly, why did man start cooking at all? And how did cooking food before you eat it catch on (all over the world) as a good idea? Fast forward to today:  and
Advances in technology are always great.  New and better technology will always change lives (and the world) for the better. Until it doesn’t.
Technology allowed man to go from walking > riding > flying > space. Faster is always better, right? Faster and faster and faster! Until going faster can kill you.
Before the internet, having more than a few dozen “friends” was impossible.  How could you possibly nurture more than a few true friends? Don’t you love how Facebook “cuts you off” at 5,000 friends?  Having 4,999 friends is just fine, but hey, no one can have more than 5,000 friends – that’s just nuts!
I think cell phones are incredibly cool, and that mobile technology in all of its forms has changed the world for the better. I have been selling cellular phones since 1983; it was the beginning of my business career. But I also hate the fact that thousands of people die every day, all because someone was texting while driving. The same technology that allowed me to earn a living since 1983 kills people every day.
Here is a mock-up of an airliner for the near future. We sure have come a long way since Orville Wright's first flight in 1903. Since the beginning of time, there was technology. From the first stone knives, to buggy whips to the Space Shuttle, mankind and technology have always been intertwined. If I say the word “technology” what do you see in your mind’s eye?  Probably a mental picture of an iPhone, iPad, computer, or maybe a space ship or satellite on its way to the Milky Way. I found this list (on the Internet, of course) of the greatest inventions of all time:
Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning, is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside of safe limits by over hydration, i.e., over-consumption of water.
Under normal circumstances, consuming too much water is exceptionally rare. Nearly all deaths related to water intoxication in normal individuals have resulted either from water drinking contests in which individuals attempt to consume large amounts of water, or long bouts of intensive exercise during which electrolytes are not properly replenished, yet excessive amounts of fluid are still consumed.
Water, just like any other substance, can be considered a poison when over-consumed in a specific period of time. We all know that access to fresh drinking water is necessary for life. But if you drink too much of it, it can kill you.

So, here is my epiphany on this lovely Sunday morning: too much of anything is bad for you, no matter what it is. Especially when that “thing” is technology. 

I think this is the perfect place to end my blog.

Feel free however, to share any of my blogs with your friends on Facebook. Unless of course, you have reached your limit of 5,000 friends, then you better tweet it. Or, post it on Google+. Or……

Sunday, January 8, 2012

NFL: Not for Long

I watched two NFL football games yesterday.  I will be watching two NFL games today. My weekend plans were coordinated around football.  Our meals for the weekend were affected by NFL football. My beloved New York Giants are in the playoffs this year; if they win today my upcoming work week will be just a little easier. Every conversation will begin with “how about dem Giants!”  Losing today is not even worthy of discussion.

The National Football League (NFL) is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing its name to the National Football League in 1922. The league currently consists of thirty-two teams from the United States. The league is divided evenly into two conferences – the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC), and each conference has four divisions that have four teams each, for a total of 16 teams in each conference. 
The NFL is the most attended domestic sports league in the world by average attendance per game, with 66,960 fans per game in 2010–11. 
Not everyone loves football, but professional football affects everyone. It affects every business and every household. College football would not exist in its current form, were it not for the NFL. Every NFL game has the players looking into the camera, proudly stating where they played their college ball. 
My father played professional football, when helmets were made of leather and there were no facemasks.  He had a “regular job” during the week, and then he played for money during the weekends.  “Two-Ton Tony Capone was my hero when I was growing up.  At around 6’ and 285 he played fullback and he ran the 100 yard dash in around 11 seconds, which is just nuts. Trying to tackle my father was like trying to stop a golf cart coming right at you, full speed. During his best years, I think he made around $1000 per week.
I have a business partner who played in (and won) 3 Super Bowls. Two Championship seasons with the New York Giants and one with the San Francisco 49ers.  It is HARD to make any NFL team and play professional football.  It is VERY HARD to reach the Super Bowl; some players have long careers and never even make it to the playoffs.  To play in (and win) three Super Bowls is statistically amazing. 
Less than 10% of the people who play in the NFL have successful careers, post football.  Many professional players did not even graduate college. Many had their NFL careers cut short, due to injury. Every year, the graduating college players are bigger, faster and stronger. From February 22-28, 2012 more than 300 top prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft will be invited to participate at the combine in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. This event is a vital step in athletes achieving their NFL dreams. It is amazing to see the greatest athletes in the world, fighting for opportunities to earn millions of dollars. Some will realize their dreams.  Most will not.
If my father played the game today, he would be paid millions. He played the game more for love than money, he told me this many times. The game has changed, as the world had changed.  Define career, define livelihood, define “job”.  My business partner was an accounting major in college, and also played in the NFL. Now he is an attorney, a CPA and a serial entrepreneur. He just happens to have 3 Super Bowl rings to go with his college diploma and law degree. Now that is even more statistically amazing.  
I don’t know what the numbers are, but I would say that more than half of the televisions and radios in the New York tri-state area will be following the Giants playoff game today. The Internet has allowed “fantasy football” to become the most paid advertising portal on the web. Online advertising revenue from online football fantasy game sites is the number two revenue stream on the Internet. Madden NFL 12™ continues the rich tradition of the storied franchise by bringing fans closer to the NFL than ever before. Featuring all 32 teams, stadiums, and your favorite players in the league, Madden NFL 12 is the number one selling Xbox video game of all time. 
Baseball might be America’s pastime, but Professional Football 
has become the symbol of America.
What happened here? How did the game of football go from leather helmets without facemasks, and players who worked construction jobs during the week, to the NFL of today? Technology.
The technology of television changed the game. Television allowed for advertising, which allowed for multi-million dollar salaries.  Technology allowed Super Bowl ads to demand $3.5M for 30 seconds in 2012. Funny how the first Super Bowl game was not even sold out, but it was televised.  Television cameras were forbidden to show the empty stadium, and only show the playing field.

A career in professional football will continue to fuel the dreams of America’s youth for many years to come.  I wonder if we will ever have video games or “fantasy leagues” of teachers, nurses and other important careers, like we have with the NFL or the NBA. PS: my father HATED the New York Giants.  They cut him from the team, and he never got over that. Go figure.

I say that NFL stands for not for long, as far as careers go.  But the memories do last a lifetime.  

If you ask me who was my favorite professional football player of all time, my answer is “my Dad”. Too bad the NFL Alumni Association did not exist back then; my father would have earned a nice pension. And too bad that he did not play during the era of video games for that matter – I could play “my father's position" against my two sons.