Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Place for Giant Files

How timely: my iPad goes fritzomatic just in time for the release of the iPad2. In the course of my half-hearted attempts to fix it, I manage to fill my start-up drive to the point of crashing (notwithstanding I have an entire terabyte of media storage and another full terabyte of backup). I think the entire Library of Congress would fit on a few terabytes. What the heck is all this stuff? Insomnia and internet addiction are a fatal storage-eating combination. I tend to have odd research binges at 3:00 am, wildly downloading and storing all kinds of files in connection with whatever fleeting obsession catches me before the dawn. A few years ago, I stumbled on a new edition of my great-grandfather's novel (from a publisher likely inspired by Obama's election, since the protagonist in some ways resembles him more than 100 years later). Public domain is a bitch. Anyway, that spurred some serious midnight OCD, wherein I found this photo on the Jacksonville University web archive. Remarkably enough, there's my great-grandmother, the undertaker Mrs R.G. Walker (nee Holmes), proudly displaying her cars and corporate headquarters in one of the massive files that has been clogging up my hard drive. I guess burying black folks in the South was pretty good business at that time. Well, I had to do something with the file before I put in the black hole that is my media archive drive. There it is.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bread from Levain

DSC00630.JPG, originally uploaded by defmonk2007.

I've screwed around extensively with the Sullivan Street no-knead method. More than pleased with consistently delicious results, subject to the amendments in my earlier post, bread from levain is my new challenge.

A close cousin of sourdough, this bread's irresistible appeal is the simplicity of ingredients: water, salt, flour. No yeast - the first step in producing this loaf is "hunting" the wild yeasts already carrying on in my kitchen. The wonderful starter I've captured is the sort of thing I hope to pass on to my children, along with my indestructible Dutch bike, my watch and my Saddleback Leather case, provided I can keep up with the weekly "feedings" for the next thirty years or so.

The result of this new project (and my recent acquisition of a French lame) is this beautiful two-pound boule. The lame, basically a double-edged razor on a stick, paid for itself in the marital harmony engendered by the flamboyant "V" inscribed on the top of the loaf. Suddenly, the lovely Vanessa is a bit more tolerant of the cloud of flour dust I throw off each weekend.

Two weeks after building my starter daily, I'm rewarded with a loaf of exceptional substance, complexity and depth of flavor. Reinhardt's recipes from Crust and Crumb are excellent. Kudos for the simplicity and purity of his work.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Branded and Better: Yahoo! News

Today's online audiences are looking for experiences that are more personal, social and engaging than ever — and that's just as true for advertising as it is for anything else.

This is the age of branded programming.

Uncompromising integrity is central to the success of such entertainment. A dynamic understanding of audiences’ desire to know, plus active conversations with advertising partners during the development of these highly customized programs, ensures that the programs will fulfill the needs of both the audience and the advertiser; neither is left out.

At Yahoo! News, we've become not just a thoughtful aggregator of newswire articles but the robust home of “only on Yahoo!” features and content. At the heart of this transformation: We've leveraged original news video, broad social activation interactive polling, exclusive reporting and analysis, and real-time blogging to appeal to a broad, highly engaged audience — all while uniquely serving the needs of advertising partners.

In the news realm, content providers can serve advertising partners' objectives by putting the brand messaging within an important, timely news frame. It's this editorially legitimate context that elevates the credibility of branded news programming far above mere "advertorial" content (which draws increasing skepticism from an ever more sophisticated Web audience).

Working creatively with agencies and advertisers, the savviest content providers can find unique ways to align their programs with brands without compromising the editorial integrity of their own products.

At Yahoo! News, one of our most unique and comprehensive branded programs is “Weekend Edition,” sponsored by Buick. It's a tour-de-force of partner and original content, including three distinct video series starring, respectively, Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes, irrepressible road warrior Harry Hurt, and heroic adventurer Jim Brasher. The show has become a destination, helping to reinvent our site on the weekends with the lighter lifestyle-oriented news programming that our internal insights tell us is popular with audiences after a long workweek.

“Weekend Edition” features several levels of innovative brand integration: using Buick’s focus on “discovery” in the opening bumper with the tagline “Weekend Edition, Discovered by Buick”; a branded segment after each video that provides an actionable item or “did you know” about something featured in the video; and, in the travel portions of the video, use of Buick cars and trucks in — just where the cars' presence was organic and natural.

This year, our approach yielded many of the Web's top-performing original video programs:

  • “Who Knew?,” sponsored by Toyota, and “Upgrade Your Life,” sponsored by Lexus. These include clever post-video branded segments that are relevant to the original video.
  • Second Act,” sponsored by General Mills, about people who have reinvented themselves. A very active, athletic baby boomer was profiled in one episode, tying in with a Dannon tagline that focused on having strong bones.
  • Odd News,” sponsored by Allstate. The closing segment of the show covers a “Mayhem Moment” to align with Allstate’s "Mayhem" theme.

Ultimately, it's Yahoo! News' world-class editorial staff that empowers us to stay true to our independent news judgment while delivering our advertisers’ objectives.