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Paul Nicholson
Nashvegas TN
Digital Marketing Manager at HealthTrust. Social media junkie, strategist, and app idea guy. Hockey fan, photographer, and father to 2 awesome boys.

(Opinions expressed here are not those of my employer. Heck, they might not even be mine.)
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

never ask 'where' again

This is pretty awesome.

A small GPS device that you carry around in your pocket. You simply sync its clock up with the one in your digital camera, stick it in your pocket, then walk around taking pictures (for up to 5 hours). Then when you're done, pop the SD card from your camera into the device. It automatically looks back on the stored GPS data from your day's travels and compares it to the time stamp on the pictures you've taken. Then it writes the data to the pictures exif info. Instant GPS equipped photography.

Given that i geo-tag every picture i ever take (yes - all 4,400+ pictures in my Flickr stream), this is definitely something i could get in to. Now i just hope that Flickr goes back to the old way of viewing (like the map on the right of some of my photos) the maps of my photos. It wasn't perfect before, but it is better than the new method.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

crime and punishment (part 2)

A while back I was ranting against the NHL’s policy of letting the injury determine the penalty handed out. Well, it looks like they finally realized that in some cases that just can’t apply. While there hasn’t been any formal retraction of this policy, there have been a few higher profile cases lately where penalties and suspensions were obviously given out for the severity of the penalty, not the injury (like Scott Nichols' 5-game suspension for a stupid cross-check that caused only a nosebleed).

Best case yet is Chris Simon’s record breaking 30-game suspension (breaking his own record 25-game suspension from last year). He intentionally stomped on the foot of Jarkko Ruutu (with a sharp skate blade on his foot, remember) while Ruutu was down. Miraculously Ruutu was not injured at all on the play, but he could have been seriously. The NHL’s statement says it best:

"While fortunate, Mr. Ruutu suffered no serious injury as a result of Chris Simon's actions, the deliberate act of kicking an opponent with a skate blade, especially when that opponent is in a vulnerable position, is and always has been a repugnant and totally unacceptable act in the game of hockey.”
That’s two good suspensions in a row for unacceptable behavior. Let’s hope this translates to the minor/double-minor/major calls on the ice for an otherwise decent check or a minor trip that turns into a fluke injury.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Hobbit movie is on!

Breaking news... The Hobbit, long delayed thanks to legal fighting between Peter Jackson and New Line, is on! And it's going to be two movies!

For the quick backstory: Peter Jackson sued New Line saying that he was underpaid for his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. New Line had the exclusive rights to produce a movie based on the books. Tolkien's family had to approve any filmmaker chosen to head the project. They wanted Peter Jackson. Thus, a three-way lockdown. Trick was, New Line's rights to the books were going to expire soon. So if they didn't get it made, they would lose the contract and the Tolkien family could re-bid the rights (which would be worth a fortune thanks to the success of the LOTR).

But it looks like Jackson and New Line have made up (surprise) so the movie can go forward. They are saying that it is going to be "the Hobbit and a sequel"...i can only assume that means they are splitting the book into two parts. If they are doing the Hobbit and then going to do the Silmarillion as movie...not sure that would really work :-)

Production is supposed to start "as soon as possible" which means the folks at WETA are probably already working on stuff, and Peter Jackson will start in full-time once he wraps up The Lovely Bones and does whatever he has to do as producer for Tintin, District 9, and the Halo movie (if it ever gets made).

For those not familiar, the only characters in common between the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit are the main character, Bilbo Baggins (though he is much younger), Gandolf the Grey, and Golum. Andy Serkis will of course be back to play Golum as a CG character again, while Ian McKellen is assumed to be returning as Gandolf (though he'll be 71 by the time the first movie comes out). Bilbo was played in the last movie by Ian Holm, and while i loved his part, and there is always the possibility of fabulous de-aging technology, it is assumed that Bilbo will be re-cast. I'd really love it if they could somehow let Ian Holm play the character. Provide a great sense of continuity...but i just don't see it happening. I just hope they don't try to use Elijah Wood and change his look. LOTR survived with him as Frodo, but... yeah, let's not go there.

good eats

Heads up on a fun article in the City Paper about Sweet 16th. The best bakery I’ve ever been to, bar none.

NBA plus/minus?

Wow. After bragging about hockey for having some of the best stats out there, it looks like the NBA is finally wising up and matching them in at least one category.

The NBA is now tracking players plus/minus. I just noticed it on the box score for the Spurs game from last night (don't look, it wasn't pretty). Going back in to the archives, it looks like they only just started reporting the stat at the start of this season on October 30th. They aren't publishing complete plus/minus numbers for players for the season though, which is unfortunate. This is the one stat that should start to a quantifiable number for defensive-minded players. I look forward to being able to dig in and watch these numbers as the year progresses though, and even better from year to year.

Friday, December 14, 2007

published pictures

Eastwood Neighbors just came out with their 13 month calendar, featuring not one, but two shots by yours truly. Now, i haven't seen the calendars, so i can't speak to their overall quality and such. (I certainly am not responsible for the proofreading ability of whoever posted the announcement) But i'm pretty proud of having pictures selected just the same.

These two shots were selected for the calendar:

and

By the way: If you're interested in buying one, you can visit their site for info. But don't buy one on my account. I won't see a dime and it's not that big a deal for me.

While i'm on the topic, i'll go ahead and brag some more that my pictures have been used a few different places. Two other print-based tour guide books have contacted me about using my pictures (though neither has sent me a copy yet) and two other web-based sites use my shots. One is a shot of the railroad bridge over the Cumberland River in Shelby Bottoms Park (at the right) featured on Schmap!'s sports grounds page, another is a picture of downtown (focus on Broadway) that serves as the shot of Nashville for an international based tour site, Geoglob. That one i am particularly happy with, though i don't think either of these sites is particularly well trafficked or famous, it's cool just the same to have my pictures singled out. I've also had a bunch of my Predators photos grabbed and posted all over the place, particularly the Predators Fan group on Facebook and on the Predators message boards... though they generally don't ask permission.

And while i'm on the photos topic, i love that Flickr finally, FINALLY started including real stats for pictures and photo streams. It still isn't as deep-dive or robust as i'd love it to be, but it is better than nothing. Enough that i can brag that since Flickr started keeping stats my 4,426 photos have been viewed 47,814 times, and that on Nov 30th alone, i had 916 views of my photos. Yay :-)

Preds Sign Blum

In more Preds minor league/prospect news, Eklund is "reporting" that we just signed our draft pick Jonathan Blum to a three year deal. Blum was our first round pick last year (23rd overall), and is yet another strong defensive prospect. He's another one "puck-moving" defensmen (as opposed to the ones that sit on the puck?) with a penchant for offense. Right now he's just 160lbs, but he stands 6'0" and is just 18 years old, so hopefully he'll fill out and become a more physical presence. He's from Long Beach, CA (that's California, not Canada), a great hockey town (that's for you, Mirtle). He's been playing in Vancouver of the WHL for a couple of years.

Good stuff.

the mullet is called up

The Preds just called up forward Antti Pihlstrom from the Admirals. That's right. The man/boy with the best mullet in camp this summer (pictured at right), who was a star in Finland last year, has been called up. My big question: is this a reaction to the poor play of our current players? An offensive shot in the arm? Or is this just a chance for Antti (to be called "Pihlly"?) to sit on the bench and be ready in case someone else falls victim to the flu? Or worst of all, is Erat out for a while?

There has been some discussion around the forums and other blogs lately that since Sully will be gone for a while, the Preds need an offensive shot in the arm. A trade or some other shakeup to get things going.

Pihlstrom has been having a very strong year in Milwalkee and from what i saw at camp, is a Radulov-esque offensive firecracker. High energy, shoot first attitude, but not as reckless as Hornqvist still looks. The fact that they are calling up Pihlstrom and not Peverly or other forwards with more NHL experience tells me that Poile is looking for production and spark, not just safe reliability.

I like it :-)

this looks familiar

I have referenced this story before
Once upon a time, when the DVD+RW and DVD-RW camps were battling things out, I had a fledgling media business where I would convert people’s home movies to DVD and author nice fancy menus for them and such. However, I didn’t want to get stuck buying the wrong kinda of DVD burner, so I shelled out nearly $500 for an external Sony “4 format” drive. I assumed it would be a rare beast and that eventually one format would win, but I wanted to cover my bases. Just 6 months after I bought that Sony drive for $500, a truce was declared, 4-format drives became popular, and dropped in price to under $100.

So having learned that lesson, I’m certainly holding off on this. But it is good to know the options are getting better…

Addonics (anyone ever heard of them before?) has finally come out with a sub-$500 drive that will read both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs (while burning old-school DVD+/-RW’s). That’s just fine with me since I can’t even remember the last time I burned a DVD…that’s what network attached storage and set-top media extenders are for these days. I certainly don’t know when I’d need to burn a 25GB disk. This is pretty similar to this LG drive from a few months ago, but i personally still can't find these phantom LG drives for actual sale anywhere. At least the Addonics are available for purchase.

Anyway. With this little toy, all anyone would need is a video card that supports H.264 decoding (they start at around $50) and a decent PC overall and they’d be able to watch HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies on their PC (not to mention the tons of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD software that is out there…oh wait…there isn’t any). Total price (assuming you have a PC that is a year old or less) to get you to the HD promised land would run a total of about $500. Much better than, say, the few stand-alone dual-format players that run upwards of $999. Ouch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

communal viewing

We own lots of DVDs. Not nearly as many as some people i'm sure, but we have quite a bit. Not just movies, but a lot of TV shows too. We also subscribe to Netflix, which in addition to the DVD's through the mail we get, allows us to instantly stream movies over the web (from a rather limited selection). We also frequent Hulu and other online content sources. In light of all of this, we do not have cable. No need. More than enough entertainment and not enough time in the day as it is. The only TV show we’re huge fans of and “have” to watch is Stargate and we just go over to a friend’s house every Friday for that (which is more fun anyway)… So, that's your background.

I want to continue my process of ripping content from DVDs on to our big network drive. Have any and all of our media instantly accessible. Then my goal is to get a PC hooked up to the HDTV upstairs (already have one driving the projector-home theater downstairs) and just be in media heaven. Never have to watch “TV” again outside of live sporting events.

I love all this. My wife however, does not love it as much.

She’s fine with me ripping the content, and fine with watching shows occasionally and we watch movies frequently. But she still insists on occasionally watching TV. We have a good ‘ol set of rabbit ears and she’ll end up watching re-runs of sitcoms on fuzzy broadcast TV with…with… commercials included. I don’t understand this. She tries to explain it as wanting a “communal viewing experience”. She likes knowing that there are thousands (if not hundreds) of other people watching the same thing she is at the same time. I comprehend the facts of that statement, but it isn’t something I’ve ever felt compelled to partake in myself. What I really don’t get is how she’d often rather watch the fuzzy, broadcast, commercial filled version of Scrubs than just boot up the PC and watch the near-commercial-free version that is much higher quality on Hulu. I would way rather have a nice, clear, perfect version of my entertainment, starting and stopping when I darn well please, than have to be on someone else’s schedule for an inferior product. (wow, that sounded more harsh than I meant…)

But now it looks like there is something for both of us.

According to Cinematical, the new Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix HD-DVD allows for "Live Community Screening". Basically if you have a web-connected HD-DVD drive (which most allow for), when you hit play under this feature the movie doesn’t start immediately. Playback is controlled by a single "host" user, who initiates the invitation-only viewing, and can control the film by pausing and playing the feature on everyone else's machines. Participants can also text between their remote devices, creating a virtual "live chat" environment while they watch. High quality, great presentation, but the knowledge that someone else in who-knows-where is laughing at Harry and Ron at exactly the same time you are is still present.

Kinda cool...I guess. This is a strange, strange world we live in.

Oh - and in related news: Warner Brothers is backing off HD-DVD and it looks like the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD lines are going in favor of Blu-Ray. The HD-DVD version of Order of the Phoenix also comes bundled with a standard DVD, and for the first time Harry Potter movies (or any Warner Brohters movie as far as i know) is being pressed to Blu-Ray as well (I don't know of Blu-Ray'ers get the above mentioned "communal experience" though). Actually, it looks like they are Blu-Raying all the Harry Potters.

Monday, December 10, 2007

smack talk

I just had to point out that Able to Yzerman just handed out some major smack talk to Preds fans. Actually a pretty well written, funny entry from an objective point of view.

new air pollution law... maybe

According to the Nashville Post, we have a change to air pollution laws about to hit at the start of the new year that is explained thusly:

Places certain restrictions on open burning of wood waste within 200 feet of an unoccupied building by person other than the occupant of the building.
You wanna run that by me again? I can't burn wood near an unoccupied building unless i am the person who occupies the building? I know we pay our legislators too much... but... wow.

Of course, it could be a typo on the part of the Nashville Post. The PDF they link to which is supposed to be the actual law summary, talks about the state taking over federal programs when the feds budget comes up short. So i think it's just screwed up. Sounded funny to me though.

Fantasy Hockey Update

Just wanted to post a quick update on my Fantasy Hockey league.

Pulled a quick stats analysis for everyone. Basically this shows the totals for all stat categories for everyone currently on all rosters (averages, not totals for the GAA and SV% categories). Just a quick, sloppy view of where everyone's strengths and weaknesses are. Of course, Starcats and Rebel Mandos are both carrying 4 goalies and Ice Holes just has 2, so the win totals are a little skewed, but this gives the general idea.

Should point out the need for a few trades... hum?



Full sheet available here if this view doesn't work for you.

Just a reminder, here's the cast of players:

Rebel Mandos: Kevin Peters
Ice Holes: Paul McCann
Novice -- Fresh Meat: Kevin Hicks
Fab Forecheckers: Dirk Hoag (aka "The Forechecker">
Preds: Paul Nicholson (me!)
Disastros: David Carlson
PuckNtheMouth: Brandon Felder
PredHeads: Ryan Cassell
Nashvegas Starcats: Christy Nicholson (aka HockeyWife)
Old School Blues: Gary Nicholson

oh the shame

T.J. Hensick and Marek Svatos have got to be going through some real self-reflection time right now. Their team, the Colorado Avalanche dropped 9...NINE goals on the St Louis Blues last night. But somehow, in their 9 and 12 minutes of ice time (respectively) they managed to end up -1 for the game. Now, granted, Colorado also gave up 5 goals to a powerful Blues team, it was a crazy shootout. But still. When you're team finishes with 9 goals, ending the game -1 just looks silly.

Note: For the non-hockey fans among readers, the plus/minus rating is a hockey stat that measures the team goal differential when a specific player is on the ice. If a player is on the ice when his team scores (even strength or short handed) they get +1. If they are on the ice when their team is scored on (even strength or power play) they get -1.

really?!

I haven't had a chance to watch very much basketball, what with so much hockey around and just being busy. I try to stay up on things though. I know my Spurs are on top, Boston is cleaning up out east... but i just saw that New Orleans is in 2nd place in the division and 3rd in the conference. What!? Someone please explain to me how and why New Orleans has a better record than... well... anyone. Especially better than Dallas. Weird...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Free beer! (and sodas)


New Preds owner David Freeman just walked through section 303, shook everyone's hand, thanked them for supporting the team, and passed out coupons for free beer or soda. This guy knows what he's doing. Not sure if Craig Leipold is gonna join us up here for the game again or not. There is definately a buzz in the arena. First official game with the new owners.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

ok...here it goes

This is something i've thought about for a long time, but never posted, mostly out of fear of a 'sensitive' issue. Very few people do talk about it. But Kukla's Korner just linked to someone else talking about it, so i figured i'd chime in:

I have often wondered about the lack of minority players playing at least a partial role in hockey not being as quickly adopted in the southern (particularly south-east) US. When i go to games in Nashville, the vast majority of fans in the stands are all white. Like 98.5%. Meanwhile Titans games and other sports in town draw just about equally from the black and white communities. In cities where there is a large minority population (in some cases they are the vast majority, in fact) it makes an "all-white" sport a tough draw, economics aside. I wish it didn't, but i think it does. I've often wondered if the Preds would start drawing better if they traded for Ray Emery, Anson Carter, or maybe even Mike Grier (i'd love to have Jarome Iginla, but i don't think that's going to happen).

Outside of just the local team draw, i think the lack of diversity impacts the overall appeal nationwide. Many sports right now are heavily promoted/influenced/marketed with "black culture".

A friend of mine (who is black) told me he just got season tickets for the Preds. He was amazed. He'd never seen hockey live before and has absolutely fallen in love. He said he grew up watching nothing but football and basketball. He'd just never been exposed to it. I don't think that much is unique to him being black, just growing up in Nashville. But what i think is more unique is that, for those little kids who are 9 or 10 growing up...they look for role models. People they can relate to but want to emulate. Right now, as much as he may enjoy watching a game, there aren't a whole lot players for a 9-year old black kid growing up in Nashville or Atlanta to relate to.

I'm not saying hockey is doing it on purpose. I'm not saying that hockey can't succeed as it is now. But i really think that hockey would have a huge boost, especially in the southern US, if they could increase the minority presence. Many teams (the Preds included) are starting to run hockey programs for kids that can't afford it. The more accessible they can make it, the better. How might things look different if someone like Lebron James had decided he wanted to be the next Wayne Gretzky, not the next Michael Jordan.

Ok. There. I said it.
Let the flame wars begin...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

new place to watch games

Well, Beyond the Edge apparently did decide to pick up the Center Ice package after all! They just posted yesterday on MySpace that they would have the game on (against Montreal) and had subscribed to the package. I wish they had gone non-smoking, but i understand why they didn't. It was really amazing, earlier this year Christy and i called around to a ton of places trying to find someplace that had Center Ice and didn't allow smoking. After a while we just tried to find someplace that had Center Ice. The only place we could find was Sam's Place in Hillsboro Village. We'd never been there and it was pretty cool. Nicer than most sports bars i've ever been to, though we were stuck watching the game on a small TV in the corner that night since it was a big college football night. But this will be waaaay nicer being able to watch the game 1) on the big screen 2) much closer to home and 3) with our good friend Josef (the manager) who is also a big Preds fan and will yell and high-five us when they we score :-)

that'll be the day

Greag Popovich has to love that the Spurs beat the Mavs tonight without Tim Duncan. He has to be fuming at this news though. The NBA is going to require all coaches to be mic'ed up during games and give on-bench interviews during the game anytime they are on national TV. Popovich has always kept himself and his team just at the league minimum for media exposure. As few interviews as possible, as few reporters at practice as possible, etc. He is always terse and sometimes rude to reporters trying to get in a quick half-time interview with him in the hall. My guess is that more than once he will be required to pay a fine for refusing to do the interview or not wearing the mic. I hope so at least.

I really find that pretty amazing. I've seen the Predators and other NHL clubs do it with assistant coaches and with backup goalies. Also with players who volunteer. But... wow. I enjoy hearing what the coaches have to say, but this is a little extreme i think.

finally i can edit on the road

I love my ability to quickly post blog entries and/or photos to my Flickr stream straight from my phone. However, one major downside to this is an inability to edit the photos quickly. I can upload them, but if the shot isn't cropped right or balanced right or whatever, i have to wait until i get home to load up photoshop. Now, however, as long as i am within reach of any PC with web access, i can edit them. Sweet!

tempting...

If i could know for a fact that i would be able to secure a reliable cheap/free supply of cooking oil, this would be pretty tempting given that we own two diesel vehicles (both VW hatchbacks that get 40+ MPG). If i remember our budget, this is going for roughly what we spend in 1 year on fuel. So given that i'd still have to buy chemicals, the inevitable maintenance on the machine itself, and the work/risk/hassle of the actual process... i think it's still a little ways away for us. But tempting. And i like that it is getting closer to practicality.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

vocational issues

I know how he felt:

citing artistic differences
the band broke up in may
and in june reformed without me
and they'd got a different name
-- Ben Folds, Army
About a year ago I worked in a department that was a lot of fun, had the feeling of family, and just generally rocked. The work was very hard, much worse and more stressful than what I’ve had to do for the last year, but it was tolerable because of the group. About a year ago many of us, myself included, dispersed and found jobs in other departments around the company, feeling it was time to move on. Apparently those left back in the old group were frustrated at how things “changed” but things weren’t too bad...

I just found out though, that most of the people who had left, including a great friend who had actually left the company, are back in a newly formed/changed version of the old group I used to work in, but with promotions all around. My three closest friends in the company actually, with another one likely about to join them. Meanwhile the job I had been doing for the last year just got eliminated and was demoted back doing a job that, while not “bad” is one that I had done for 3 years and was ready to move past, but in a group that (though again isn’t "bad") isn’t the old gang.

I know wasn’t shafted on purpose. Or excluded on purpose. And my employer has, all things considered, been pretty good to me.

But I feel very left out.
And frustrated.
[sigh]

Monday, December 03, 2007

crime and punishment

The NHL just handed down the suspension for Scott Nichol's cross check to the face of Patrice Brisebois the other night. 5 games. I guess that's about right, though I expected less and would have been ok with more.

What was particularly interesting to me about this, was the statement by Colin Campble, NHL disciplinarian (VP of Operations). His statement read: "The crosscheck by Mr. Nichol to the head area of his opponent was reckless and dangerous. Although no serious injury resulted, the action is unacceptable."

Interesting. I am a little confused though. I've ranted about the punishment fitting the crime not the injury in the NHL before, but this year the league has outright stated that punishments will be doled out in accordance to the severity of the injury (if any).

But this situation has me confused. I figured Nichol would get a game or two since there was very little injury (a small cut on his chin). I think the action deserved a 7 game suspension if not quite a bit more (in light of the 20+ game suspensions for some sketchy hits during the course of play earlier this year). And a 5 game suspension gets handed down. And the comments go with them... I'm not sure if Nichol got of easy because there wasn't an injury, or if these comments should lead us to believe he got a stronger penalty because of his actions, not the injury.

Either way, i know Horichuck doesn't have the (occasional) defensive smarts and penalty killing that Nichol has, but i'll be glad to see him in and Nichol out for a while. Nichol's a decent player, but he's gotta stop doing idiotic stuff like this or he's going to cost his team big time when it comes to the playoffs... oh wait...he already did last year.

Net is down


I think my faithful 6 year old DSL modem may have finally died. Connection is down and doesn't seem to be coming back. Thank goodness i added the internet plan to my cell recently.

UPDATE: It's back. I think Bellsouth AT&T just had a hiccup. Can't complain too much. First one in a looooong time and still way more stable than cable ever was for me or my parents back in the day.

vocabulary

I have noticed a recent trend in the office. Speech which i only "saw" in online forums and from high schoolers is working its way into spoken, workplace vocabulary. Phrases like "that effing stinks" and "W-T-F". These euphamisms for the F-bomb are nothing new, but it just sounds really funny outloud. I personally have been known to say "that was freaking amazing" and i know deep down that it is a substitute for alternative language, just like "what the heck", etc. But i've never said that in a business environment (that i can recall) and i've never, in personal or business life, actually pronounced the word "effing". It just sounds dumb. Even worse: people actually saying "double-you tee eff"...as in WTF. Huh?

I've always been a big believer that vocabulary, if not accurately revealing, is frequently used as a way to judge a person's intelligence. As a very wise...er, uh...enthusiastic Ruby Rod said in The 5th Element: "Will you please act like you have more than a 2-word vocabulary!"