Thursday, February 24, 2011

SF Muni Story By Jonathan Bloom, KRON TV Channel 4

I just - about 30 minutes ago from this writing - met KRON TV Channel 4's Jonathan Bloom, and as he was standing outside the San Francisco Muni Light Rail Line entry / exit area with his Sony betacam on a tripod.

As I did, with KPIX TV Channel Five's Mike Sugarman last June, here:

I said to Mr. Bloom that a Flip Video Camera worked better. He asked if I could hold it steady at a distance and still get a great shot. I explained that I do regularly and took time to demonstrate my technique of holding the camcorder to eye level and keeping it there throughout my scene creations, even panning. I then asked Mr. Bloom what he was doing out at a BART station at this time of night.

It was at that point, Bloom mentioned his work on a story involving San Francisco MUNI and claims thaat MUNI is not properly maintaining its light rail lines. Bloom says that SF MUNI is also "bypassing" inquiries by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. He's going to have more on the story at 11 PM on KRON TV 4, San Francisco.

As for the camera talk, Bloom loves Flips, he just wishes they had a better telephoto capability.

Stay tuned.

Space Shuttle Discovery: Foam Falls Off After Launch

BREAKING - According to CNN Television and NASA, a video shows foam to be falling from Space Shuttle Discovery as it speeds into orbit after a successful launch today. To be clear, the foam that covers much of the Shuttle's exterior did not start falling while the spacecraft was in the process of liftoff, but afterward.

That's important, because it was falling material from the Space Shuttle Challenger that led to a series of engineering processes leading to its eventual explosion in 1985.

Foam Was Replaced Last November

Foam was replaced on Space Shuttle Discovery last November, and along the external tank where cracked support beams were replaced.

The damage was reported after a cancelled November 5th launch because of a gas leak. Eventually, it was repaired, tests were conducted, and the launch date that was today was authorized.

Stay tuned.

ABC and The Academy Extend Oscar Telecast Agreement

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences just issued a press release announcing the extension of their TV agreement with the ABC Television Network . Here's the AMPAS release, in full:

The ABC Television Network's contract to carry the annual Academy Awards presentations has been extended for six more years, though 2020, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ President Tom Sherak and Anne Sweeney, President of the Disney/ABC Television Group, announced today.

"This contract ensures that the Oscar show will be an ABC tradition for 45 consecutive years," said Sherak. "ABC is absolutely the very best place for the Academy Awards, a television event that is beloved and watched by millions of movie lovers all over the world."

"ABC has been home to the Oscars for many years, having aired a total of 46 of the annual telecasts, so we’re thrilled to announce that this tradition will continue," said Sweeney. "During that time, we’ve enjoyed a tremendous partnership with the Academy, pairing the best in movies with the best in television, and look forward to a long and successful collaboration in the years to come."

Academy Executive Director Bruce Davis added, "The Oscars remain the most-watched non-sports program in America, and we’re delighted that ABC will continue to be the setting for that jewel. The network has consistently demonstrated an understanding of what makes us unique, and has energetically supported those qualities."

The new agreement for the domestic broadcasts of the Academy Awards adds six years to the existing contract, which was scheduled to expire in 2014. International rights are covered by a separate agreement with Walt Disney International which runs through 2014.

The 83rd Academy Awards, which will air live on Sunday, February 27, will be the 36th consecutive ceremony to air on ABC.

Be sure to catch full Oscars coverage at, ramping up on Friday!

NASA Discovery's Final Space Shuttle Launch

CNN reports that NASA's shuttle Discovery will launch its final mission today as the program comes to an end:

Taken from Reuters
Parking lots, batches of grass on the side of the road and parks with a view of the Kennedy Space Center are filled with people hoping to witness a spectacular launch. More than 60,000 people are expected at the Kennedy Space Center said NASA to witness the launch and that doesn't include the tens of thousands of spectators along the Indian River.

Hundreds have been packing into Space View Park in Titusville, Florida, where memorials to previous space programs are displayed.

NASA's web site gives the specific schedule in technical terms:

"Date: Feb. 24
Mission: STS-133
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A
Launch Time: 4:50 p.m. EST
Landing Date and Time: March 7, 12:44 p.m. EST
Landing Site: Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
STS-133 Description: Space shuttle Discovery will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier-4 (ELC-4), a Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) and critical spare components to the International Space Station on an 11 day mission. "

There are sure to be more updates.
Ways in which you can watch it live include

Lincoln Tunnel Accident, New York: 61 Injured, 2 Buses Crash

This horrible news comes from New York City. There are reports of now up to 61 people hurt in a massive accident in the Lincoln Tunnel that involved two buses and a motorcyclist.

According to, two buses crashed into a motorcycle in the tunnel earlier this morning. The motorcyclist was between the buses when the front one stopped for traffic and the bus behind rammed into the cycle.

The rider was severely injured and taken to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan with a fractured femur and shoulder.

A total of at first 52 reported, and now 61 people were injured; 13 of them taken to Roosevelt Hospital in New York.

NJ transit added seven trains from Secaucus to New York to help stranded passengers.

More later.

from Wisconsin: "Mubarak for Governor" signs

According to the Associated Press, the legislators in the "Wisconsin Assembly have agreed to a deal that will limit further debate on a bill taking away collective bargaining rights for public workers and lead to a vote on the measure later Thursday," possibly as early as noon.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Police in Madison is asking the governor to explain "troubling" and "unsettling" statements the loose-lipped rookie Governor made while he thought he was on the phone with billionaire David Koch.
"I find it very unsettling and troubling that anyone would consider creating safety risks for our citizens and law enforcement officers. Our department works hard dialoging with those who are exercising their First Amendment right, those from both sides of the issue, to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure they can demonstrate safely."
Police Chief Noble Wray
Madison, WI
Wisconsin State Journal, 24 Feb 2011

"There are a lot of folks out there who say, ‘It doesn't impact me, I'm not a union guy, I'm not a teacher, I'm not a civil servant.' Let me tell you how it does matter to you. Wages are going down in this country for everybody. When you destroy unions there will be no standard at all, nobody left to negotiate decent jobs for the middle class..."
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders
Statement, 23 Feb 2011

"I would like to hear more of an explanation from Governor Walker as to what exactly was being considered, and to what degree it was discussed by his cabinet members."
Police Chief Noble Wray
Madison, WI
Wisconsin State Journal, 24 Feb 2011
The Chief has some legitimate questions, and the rest of the cheeseheads are coming up with some really great signs at the Madison protests, don't you think?

Political Correspondent Thomas Hayes is a former Congressional Campaign Manager; he's a journalist, photo/videographer, entrepreneur, and communications consultant who contributes regularly on topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community, who incidentally stands in solidarity with the citizens and workers in Wisconsin refusing to let their Governor's self-created budget "crisis" and new spending priorities be re-cast as a reason to undermine contractual obligations and collective bargaining agreements.
You can follow Tom as @kabiu on twitter.

Yahoo! MyBlogLog To Be Discontinued May 24, 2011

"Yahoo! MyBlogLog To Be Discontinued May 24, 2011." That's the message of a note that just popped up in my email inbox. This one:

Dear MyBlogLog Customer,

You have been identified as a customer of Yahoo! MyBlogLog. We will officially discontinue Yahoo! MyBlogLog effective May 24, 2011. Your agreement with Yahoo!, to the extent that it applies to the Yahoo! MyBlogLog, will terminate on May 24, 2011.

After May 24, 2011 your credit card will no longer be charged for premium services on MyBlogLog. We will refund you the unused portion of your subscription, if any. The refund will appear as a credit via the billing method we have on file for you. To make sure that your billing information is correct and up to date, visit

If you have questions about these changes, please visit the Yahoo! MyBlogLog help pages.

We thank you for being a customer on Yahoo! MyBlogLog.


The Yahoo! My BlogLog Team

Yep.  Come May, it's toast.  

Yahoo acquired MyBlogLog, the blog list social network system, in 2007 for $10 million. Acquiring it was reportedly the idea of Bradley Horowitz, who was a Yahoo exec in charge of strategy. But then, Horowitz smartly bolted Yahoo for Google, where he's over, Google Buzz, and other product initiatives.

But Yahoo killing My BlogLog is just plainly a dumb idea. In the Internet space, real estate is king. My BlogLog offered Yahoo a way to partner with blogs and share Yahoo-produced content. Well, all that's over now, it seems.

I have always liked MyBlogLog's concept of linking blogs and readers. It was ahead of its time, and Yahoo buying it was a smart play in 2007.  The trouble is Yahoo never built off of it.  Yahoo just owned it.  Now, it's getting rid of it.

I'm just waiting to see what Yahoo's next error's going to be.

Stay tuned.

Ongo, NY Times, AP, News Aggregator, Finally Has Price On Website

Well, for those who question the power of a well-placed blog post, take note. Ongo, the new media aggregator this blogger presented in a post on Thursday, February 10th, actually changed its website design in response to an enormous error first identified in this space.

To recap, it was last reported...

Ongo, with Alex Kazim as its CEO, was started with a $12 million first tranche of funding (not bad) from Gannett Company, The New York Times Company, and The Washington Post Company (not VC firms at all), it combines the following established news print media brands: The Associated Press, The Guardian, Slate, The Boston Globe The Miami Herald, USA TODAY, Financial Times, New York Times Picks, The Washington Post, The Indy Star, The Kansas City Star, The Miami Herald, Charlotte Observer, Detroit Free Press, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and other print titles. (not The San Francisco Chronicle as of this writing.)

You have to subscribe to get its information, which is news content from those publications. Ongo is an "inny" or what's called a "closed loop." A system, (1) the existence of which you have to know about as a brand, and then (2) information's sent out to you and (3) only after you pay for it.

As of this writing (in case they fix it), I go to the Ongo website, and right at the top I see three links: "Ongo Is.., How Ongo Works, and in large letters, SUBSCRIBE.

Ok, so I click on SUBSCRIBE expecting to know what the cost to do so is, right? Makes sense. When I click on the link, I'm taken to a page that's just a bunch of simple HTML entry fields, and nothing - not a thing - telling me how much the subscription is, and for how long. According to The Examiner's Romona Paden, it's $6.99 per month, but that must have come from the PR folks, because guess's not listed on the dog-on Ongo website!

Well, since then, Ongo's staff, led by content director Kevin Skaggs, fixed the problem. As of this writing, a visit to the Ongo site reveals a right-side panel that briefly explains what Ongo is about, what it costs to sign up, and an email list subscription field.

That's great.

But since Kevin's obviously in the mode of responding to my observations, here's another: the Ongo site doesn't tease you with content samples right on the front page.  You have to click on "available titles" to see what content is offered.  Even then, the content is not designed such that it contributes to the overall search optimization for the site.  If Ongo represents the "top news sites," it should compete for search placement in the news of the day.

As I've stated, Ongo's major problem is that it's an "inny," which, to reiterate, is what's called a "closed loop." A system, (1) the existence of which you have to know about as a brand, and then (2) information's sent out to you and (3) only after you pay for it.

Ongo's brands aren't strong enough to warrant this approach. Take a page from The Huffington Post: SEO is king.  (And I offered the example of The Huff Post deliberately.  Let's see who takes the bait.)

Stay tuned.