Sunday, January 09, 2011

CES 2011: Walking Around The Vast Exhibit Floor and Press Lounge

CES 2011 Las Vegas is history. What's neat about the video age is we have an active record of events, moments, and happenings. So, this blog post briefly presents two videos: one a walk around the vast Central Exhibit Hall at Las Vegas Convention Center, and the other a tour of the press and blogger lounges.

(As a note, there were three main exhibit halls: North, Central, and South.)

There are more videos to come, but here, you'll gain an excellent idea of just how many people attended CES international, and what it was like to walk around. As a warning, you may get dizzy while watching the "exhibit hall" video.

Exhibit Hall Walk Around Video:

Press and Blogger Lounge Video:

And a note of thanks to the Consumer Electronics Association for providing excellent Internet connection systems. The ethernet was high speed and great for uploading large video files. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could learn something from CEA.

CES 2011: The Blackberry Tablet Stands Out

CES 2011 Las Vegas featured one of the coolest exhibits this blogger has ever seen: The World Of Blackberry. Much of the buzz was around Blackberry's new tablet "The Playbook." Now, there were an estimated 75 different tablets at the 2011 Consumer Electronic Show. What makes Blackberry's tablet stand out? Well, money in marketing, retail outlets, and service.

CES 2011 is a show for retail buyers to be convinced to purchase thousands of units of a product for sale at their outlets at a price markup such that they can make money along with the manufacturer. Blackberry has thousands of long-standing relationships with buyers, and wants to gain new ones, so having a big presence at CES 2011 is critical.

The Blackberry Tablet is, frankly, a very sexy device because of its size: that of a giant postcard of 5 by 7, and because of its gaming, multimedia and video conferencing capabilties. I've stated that Apple's iPad would be the preferred device for kids because of its larger size. But Blackberry's aim is the business market, where it already has a significant foothold with its smartphones. From that perspective, it appears to be on to something.

Moreover, the issue of Apple's iPad not using Adobe Flash (because of a war between the companies that has taken on a personal tinge) may, over time, get it into trouble. From a marketing standpoint, products using Android and now Android 3.0 Gingerbread are being marketed as being more "open" than Apple's popular iPad. The Blackberry Tablet's called "flash-loving" by tech publications, a term that should give Apple's Steve Jobs some concern.

I think.

But what we're seeing in 2011 is a flood of tablets on the American market and many from smartphone makers like HTC (to come later in the year), and Samsung (at CES) - that was reflected at CES 2011 Las Vegas. A friend pointed out to me that tablets are already standard to some degree in Asia, so we're just catching up. The Blackberry Playbook is new: the tablet by makers like iQuality out of Asia, and the subject of a video coming later today, are out already and are feature-competitive with Blackberry's new-to-the-market tablet.

But with all that, what Blackberry has, as I've stated, is a heavy retail and service network. If you need your tablet repaired within a reasonable time period and at little cost because of a great warranty program, that's something to consider.

Permanent Holiday at Jam Factory

Permanent Holiday - October 2006 

Nikky Raney's first time encounter with Permanent Holiday...

Permanent Holiday performed January, 8, 2010, Saturday night at the Jam Factory in Manchester, New Hampshire. The show was free but donations are always welcome.

Walking into RAXX Billiards there are many young adults seen playing pool and drinking at the bar. A little doorway leads to a "hole in the wall" that they call the Jam Factory, which is run by Sadi Khan.

Permanent Holiday is a band from Derry, NH consisting of four members. Lead vocalist Josh Foster (who also wears a guitar around his neck for jewelry and will sometimes play backwards), drummer Chris McCoole, bassist Zanca Holiday and guitarist Jay Band - who are known by their fans as Josh, McCoole, Zanca and Jay.

Photo taken with Nikky Raney's cell phone
 ( Zanca, McCoole & Josh)
The band is directly in front of the audience which includes three girls in their 20s drinking beer from a pitcher and a group of guys in their 20s standing around (along with Brittany Leblanc and myself who sat next in between the two groups).

The band considers themselves "rock" according to their PureVolume site, but when first hearing the band play live it sounds like a mix between The Academy Is... and Fall Out Boy; which is a nice punk rock vibe.

As the lights are dimmed and adjusted the band begins the set at 8:55 and ends at 9:25. The audience of less than a dozen nods their heads up and down while tapping their feet along with the beat. The band plays its regulars and then does a cover of "Eye of the Tiger."

For one of the songs in the middle of the set Josh (lead singer) takes his guitar off of his shoulders and hands it to one of the guys in the crowd and asks, "Do you want to play one?"

It is later found out that the guy he handed off the guitar to was former band member, Dan Baker, who joined the band somewhere in his late teens and is now 22 and looking for a drummer for the new metal band he is in.

The stage performance of the band was incredible especially considering the lack of audience and tight space. Permanent Holiday is definitely a band that could rock out and entertain a wide variety of people for long periods of time - they have the "it" factor; they have even performed twice for Warped Tour. The audience was very attentive, but it was not an audience that jumped up and down screaming the lyrics or forming mosh pits (it was just too small of a venue and too few a crowd).

Photo taken from their Facebook
(McCoole, Zanka, Josh, Jay)
Josh has great stage presence as the lead vocalist and does a great job of being entertaining and fun on-stage. However, in between each song a little more of his pompous side shines through. He continues to be fun as he flails his guitar around his neck and does his own choreography. It is clear that not only is Josh really into the music - he is really into himself. He does an amazing job of keeping the crowd entertained and laughing. Making jokes about being a diva and showing a dynamic that he has with his band mates. While he sings and is in the music he seems so sincere and relatable: coming off as the guy that would be greeting fans and giving hugs to babies.

After the set Josh was the first who was greeted  and informed that there would be a review done on the performance. He politely shook hands and said, "Hi Nikky, I'm Josh. Add the band on Facebook." Knowing that Brittany was friends with all the members of the band except Josh on Facebook I asked, "Add you on Facebook or just the band?" He seemed to just ignore the remark and started to pack up the band equipment. It was kind of sad, after being friends with and meeting so many bands it is a natural feeling to expect the friendliness, especially when with someone who is friends with [the rest of] the band. He had his back to me as I tapped his shoulder and asked, "Maybe the next show I could do an interview?" I was hoping that taking the professional approach versus the personal approach would change his persona, but even when going from "fan" to "reporter" he still rejected any sort of real conversation.

McCoole (who introduced himself as Chris when meeting up with him after the set) does something that most drummers have a hard time doing: have stage presence. While staring at the group as a whole on stage McCoole is who stands out most after Josh; which is ironic since he is in the back and was wearing black the entire time. He flails around his long hair and shows the crowd that he really is into it and having a good time. Although he doesn't have a microphone he is singing along to the song and putting his heart and soul into every beat.

After receiving a hug from McCoole he showed that he was down to earth and humble. He smiled when receiving compliments on his stage presence and finding out that there would be a review written.

"To me it is all about the music and I like to have others see that I am into it and feeling the music," he confesses as he shakes his head like a rockstar and his crazy black hair flies all over the place.

It was so refreshing to see the genuine look of happiness in McCoole's eyes as he talked about how much music means to him. He was able to show that the on stage persona that he gives as he plays the drums and rocks out with his crazy hair is not an act, but truly is mirroring the way he feels on the inside.

Zanca was interesting to watch on stage as he played the bass. When Baker got on stage and took Josh's guitar it was clear that Zanca and Baker still had the dynamic working with one another. They were playing back to back in a synchronized choreography that could only exist within band members.

Zanca knew how to work his way around the small area he had to work with and only had a few minor mishaps. It's unclear whether during the final song he purposely dropped his guitar chip or if it was an accident. Coincidently Baker was sitting in a barstool and when he noticed the chip drop he reached into his pocket and held one out in front of him - kind of like an offering just in case Zanca needed it.

Zanca stands out also for wearing his hat while performing. When meeting up with him Brittany gave him a huge hug and chatted for a bit. He was very relatable and down to earth. He seemed to be very humbled and excited to hear that there would be a review written.

Jay was on the other side of Josh with a microphone in front of him as well as a guitar. Josh and he both had red guitars, but instead of twirling it around and using it as a prop like Josh - Jay was playing his guitar. Jay may not have had the most active stage presence, but it is similar to guitarists in other bands and does not make him any less of a member or make the performance any less amazing. Jay does his part and he really meshes well with the group as a whole.

Photo taken from their Facebook
(McCoole, Josh, Zanca, Jay)
When Jay was informed that there would be a review written he kindly brought over two copies of two of Permanent Vacation's CDs with a smile on his face. He was thanked very much for his generosity with hugs and he too showed that he is humble and down to earth.

The performer who went on before Permanent Holiday had lots to say and was very conversational, but since there was another performer on stage at that time it was hard to understand all of what he was saying.

Walking out of the Jam Factory and into the bar it was noticed that no one had put any money into the donation box.

Surprisingly, the one who spent the most time conversing and interacting was the former band member, Baker. Baker was quick to talk about his history with the band starting from when he was 15 and personal struggles that he had to deal with in his life. He was very friendly and opened up. He even saved Brittany from a troublesome situation and was dubbed hero of the day.

Permanent Holiday is great live as well as when being played digitally; this band is really one that is worth seeing. A lot goes into being a band that makes it big and goes far, it takes a lot of hard work before being able to consider it a "permanent holiday."

Hopefully next post will be a band profile instead of a review (including band mate interviews, more photos, videos and information on future shows and where to obtain merchandise).

Nikky Raney - The Future of Journalism
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Lock & Load: Violence in the Crosshairs

In the aftermath of the shooting in Tuscon the irony looms: those who tout the 2nd Amendment usually insist that ready access to handguns, possibly concealed, will limit the probability of gun violence. A Second Amendment "solution" yesterday would have meant a crowd armed and hair-triggered enough to be ready to defend the Congresswoman when her assailant aimed at her - as the pro-gun pundits vociferously insisted might have prevented deaths in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, for example. One could only hope they'd all have the talent to aim very carefully in such crowded conditions that even a trained sharp-shooter might feel tested, since the deaths and injuries at a grocery store in Tuscon were arguably incited by the implied acceptability of such "2nd Amendment solutions."

I'd surely hate to be Jesse Kelly, Gifford's opponent in the recent election who tied defeating her to coming to shoot a "fully automatic M-16" to remove her from office, or Sarah Palin (who used a gun-sight rendering to target 20 candidates she wanted defeated, including Giffords) right now. It must be distracting for them both to work out ways to not feel guilty about this travesty.

So, while it's true that guns don't kill people, (people kill people) it does behoove us to consider culpability for incitement; there's more to being an American patriot than whipping up media ratings in support of your particular political agenda - or at the very least, we should agree that their ought to be. If we can agree that yelling fire in a crowded, darkened theater is unacceptable, then surely we can agree that inciting to violence is not responsible public discourse, much less a valid means to attain elected office.

This was an assault on the best system of government the world has ever brought to life.
With all due respect to the Constitution and the 2nd Amendment, violence is not a solution - it's a symptom. If you don't like how our system works, that's fine with me - feel free to move to Somalia, or anywhere else that doesn't use elections to determine what the government can do and who represents us. If you're staying, though, buy in.

Thomas Hayes
is an entrepreneur, former Democratic Campaign Manager, journalist, and photographer who contributes regularly to a host of web sites on topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community.

Gabrielle Giffords: Investigate Association of American Physicians and Surgeons

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a Tuscon, Arizona-based conservative group that contains some members with reportedly extreme views, must be investigated.

Not for the group's views, but for their ownership of a YouTube video of a protest against U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her support for President Obama's Heath Care Reform Initiative. A video that was taken down from YouTube just shortly after the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords.

That, and the news that there's a second person at-large who assisted Jared Loughner, seem to jibe in a way that causes alarm to this blogger.

Here's how the AAPS is described in Wikipedia:

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a politically conservative non-profit organization founded in 1943.[1] The group had approximately 4,000 members in 2005.[2] Notable members include Ron Paul and John Cooksey. The executive director is Jane Orient, a member of the non-profit Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. AAPS publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. The organization, its members, and the journal have all been the subjects of much criticism from mainstream medical sources...

Though it describes itself as "non-partisan", AAPS is generally recognized as politically conservative...the docs of the AAPS are hardly part of mainstream medical society. Think Glenn Beck with an MD."....The organization opposes mandatory vaccination, universal health care, and government intervention in healthcare. The AAPS has characterized the effects of the Social Security Act of 1965, which established Medicare and Medicaid, as "evil" and "immoral", and encouraged member physicians to boycott Medicare and Medicaid. AAPS argues that individuals should purchase medical care directly from doctors, and that there is no right to medical care. The organization requires its members to sign a "declaration of independence" pledging that they will not work with Medicare, Medicaid, or even private insurance companies.

Here's the address of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons:

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716-3450
Phone: (800) 635-1196

Call on them to repost the YouTube video and tell everything they know about anyone who even may have been involved in protests against Gabrielle Giffords.

Stay tuned.

Back From CES: On CES, Gabrielle Giffords, and Facebook Ending

Quick views on CES 2011, Gabrielle Giffords, and "Facebook Ending."

First, let's get this out of the way: Facebook is not ending. Whoever started this Internet game forgot that Facebook just got a $50 billion cash infusion.

Thus, the person who started the Internet game, and the people who believe the game, don't know business. Only a fool gives up $50 billion with the idea that the very entity responsible for generating such value's going to come to an end after the money's sent.

CES 2011 Is Over..For Me

I'm back (briefly) after what turned out to be a fantastic trip to CES 2011 Las Vegas, and what may be a record number of videos produced by me for one event: 28, and counting. Plus, I have six new videos I made today from the floor using my Flip Video Camera - all of them of gadgets and digital products. I wanted to walk the floors to find subjects to vlog about before I headed for the airport.

But not all of my videos were made using The Flip, played a role too. Here's an example featuring Audi's exciting new 2011 A8 motorcar: rocks.  It's that simple.  Next for me, a 4G smartphone.

I almost stayed later, thus risking missing my flight, until I learned that the "Lady Gaga" that was to appear was an impersonator. So, I left.

What's interesting about CES 2011 - beyond the tablets and 3D - is the large number of electronics firms from China looking to break into the American market.  What they seek are buyers and the way to meet them, so they come to CES, where they can do just that.   More on this later.

The Gabrielle Giffords Shock

The news that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot by a deranged subhuman named Jared Lee Loughner (and another person it seems who's still at-large) is shocking and hurtful. It makes me want to cry when I think of it; frankly, it's why I immersed myself in CES one more time: to escape. As I blogged earlier today, something's really wrong with American society.

And this "video take down" issue must be investigated. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons is based here:

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9
Tucson, AZ 85716-3450
Phone: (800) 635-1196

Yep. Tucson, Arizona, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords serves in the 8th District. They had a video on YouTube protesting her last year. Someone took that video down after Congresswoman Giffords was shot. You think maybe the second shooter's in that video?

Something's wrong, man.

Maybe now people will see that we need help in a big way. Perhaps people like Sarah Palin will just cool their jets and find their heart before attacking people who disagree with them to the point of suggesting that they be "targeted." Palin, if she has a heart, should be ashamed of herself.