Thursday, October 15, 2015

Geek Gaffes Mar #RandLive

Rand Paul on Livestream

One of the most precipitous declines in the race for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination has been Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).  Last year, the libertarian leaning Senator Paul was considered to be a top contender.  But Paul’s campaign has faded to the point of where he may not have the 2.5% support to qualify for the big stage for the third GOP debate required by CNBC.

Senator Paul wanted to do something different to attract attention, generate enthusiasm among young voters and distinguish himself.  So the Paul campaign arranged for the candidate to LiveStream a day in the life.  This was a thrifty way to shine a spotlight on the candidate, leverage new media to political advantage and reinforce his brand of being a different kind of Republican.

Well, timing is everything. Tuesday October 13th was the date chosen for #RandLive.  From the superstitious side of things, the Spanish consider Martes el trece to be a day of bad luck (akin to America’s Friday the 13th).  On the more calculating side, that was the day of the first Democrat Debate so Rand was scheduling a stunt that would not draw a whole lot of attention.

Perhaps it was lucky that #RandLive did not get much time in the spotlight.  Senator Paul was scheduled to visit five college campus events in Iowa that day.  But technical difficulties interfered with much of the livestreaming, so diehard Rand-ians were left staring at a test pattern for much of the day.  These cyber glitches were unfortunate but not unforgivable as it is challenging to introduce new technology into the field of national political campaigns.

What was more egregious was Senator Paul’s unscripted answers to Google questions.  The third most popular question was “Are you still campaigning Senator Paul?”.  The freshman Senator from Kentucky gave a sarcastic and supercilious unscripted answer.

So much for appealing to the youth vote when you denounce the platform itself.  Moreover, calling it “dumbassed” shows that it was a feign and not really reflecting the candidate’s true disposition.

Other hopefuls used social media on that day to varying effects.  Both former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Donald Trump live-tweeted during the Democrat Debate.  It looked like “the Huckster” slinged up cornpone and canned ham in his replies, while “the Donald” delivered authentic raw meat which underlined his attributes.

While it is questionable if hyping a “Truman Show” for a candidate is wise, it does show innovation.  But if you are on camera 24/7, one slight slip up can ruin years of work. In the film “The Truman Show” (1998), people found that they liked watching Truman because he was natural and likable.   Senator Paul has developed a reputation for being prickly in uncomfortable interviews.  It is telling that Senator Paul noted that you can’t edit that out when it’s being livestreamed.

The tag line from The Truman Show was “How's It Going to End?”.  This may well be the same question that staffers for Rand Paul’s Presidential campaign may be asking.   

Perhaps Senator Paul can take a cue from Truman Burbank. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Contrasting Social Media Counterprogramming Strategies for the Democrat Debate

The Democrats held their first Primary "Debate" (more of a candidate forum) at a Las Vegas casino. Most political pundits expected a snoozefest which lays a foundation to a Primary Coronation.

So that Republicans did not totally cede the news cycle to a progressive politics lovefest, a couple of Republican aspirants to the Oval Office took to Twitter to counter-program by chiming in on the process. It was a cheap way to gain attention and get the message out, going over the heads of the established media through the new media.

Donald Trump made headlines with his announcement that he would live tweet the event.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) also wanted to get in on the action.  The latter leader's sharing seems to epitomize his campaign thus far--  cornpone slung just to win attention.

Take some of the @GovMikeHuckabee tweets--

They seemed like stale standbys to get some yucks. But unlike Huckabee's two debate performances when he dished out canned ham, it seems that the self nicknamed "Duck Hunter" did actually seem to watch the Democrat Debate.

That being said, Huckabee tried to be funny rather than to score points with his big campaign themes. 

In contrast, Donald Trump tried to steal the spotlight by starting with his star-appeal schtick thru @realDonaldTrump tweets--

Trump used social media to leverage his message by retweeting others who echoed or enhanced his memes and campaign messaging, whereas Huckabee basically used Twitter as a platform to share his pre-scripted one liners.

However, it looked like Donald Trump was genuinely reacting to the debate.  His social media responses reinforced his campaign messages on immigration, Washington is broken, helping Veterans and Hillary's hypocrisy.

One indication that Trump was not totally rehearsed in his responses is a short missive "Good move by Bernie S." that has no reference point, hash tags or even Twitter handles.  Presumably, this was when Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) said: "Enough with the emails already!".

On the one hand, Trump generated excitement with his social media participation in the Democrat Debates with authenticity, branding and passively marketing his message. On the other hand, Huckabee served up more cornpone which were groaners to political pundits but did little to advance his own message via social media.

With the revised qualifications for the CNBC debate, this might be one of the last servings of cornpone and canned ham from the Huckster.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Solving a Sirius (sic) Streaming Dilemma

I have been an internet streaming radio addict for over a decade. However  “upgrades” in the delivery system posed a “Sirius” (sic) dilemma which called for digital discernment and eventually action.

I love streaming internet radio.  The digital reception is much better than most terrestrial radios. And streaming internet radio provides a cornucopia of listening choices from around the world. 

When relaxing, I found that I liked two stations halfway around the world– one is a jazz station from Paris and the other plays an eclectic melange of music from Spain’s Canary Islands. Streaming internet radio players also offer easy tuning options for subchannels, which are broadcast in the stillborn HD format and are seemingly run commercial free music.

But truth be told, I cherish internet streaming radio mainly to catch talk radio.   No longer was I shut out if a syndicated show was not run locally, as I could find other outlets which may be offered at various time slots.. Some hosts will repeat there show in a loop until the next time they take the airwaves.  For breaking news, such as when people took to the streets in angry protests, I could listen to police scanners to hear reports of rioting unfiltered by the media.  

Streaming internet radio players also offer easy tuning options for subchannels, which are broadcast in the stillborn HD format and are seemingly run commercial free.

For quite a while, I relied upon Applian software like Replay Radio, which served as a “DVR” for internet radio.  Replay Radio was great for time shifting and converting into MP3s for later listening on a portable device. 

Alas, Applian now charges several dollars a month to subscribe to their media listings, thus making convenience costly. But after I discovered set top streaming internet radios, my need for recording programs waned. 

My Logitech Squeezebox is a device that I use every day.  The six preset buttons have a mixture of some local stations, a couple of distant stations which run programs that I enjoy and a couple of Sirius/XM channels (which I pay extra for that privilege).  As one obsessed with absorbing the news, it is not always necessary to see images of talking heads duking it out on camera. Thus I appreciate having a preset button to listen in and if breaking news warrants a visual, then I can turn on the TV.

While I still love the Logitech Squeezebox, the situation was not perfect.  I found that the power connection on my unit was temperamental if the radio was moved and required a power cycling.  The real problem was with Logitech’s strategic direction.  Logitech discountinued manufacturing the network media players in  2012 and was not improving the ecosystem (software and tuning backbone), but it still worked well with ocassional hiccups from third party apps like Sirius/XM. The Squeezebox also had trouble tuning into I-Heart Radio (the Clear Channel media streaming).

At the beginning of September 2015, Sirius warned streaming radio customers that they would be upgrading their player in a month and check with their manufacturer for set top streaming radio devices.  Logitech claimed that everything would be fine.  But as the deadline loomed, I learned that the Squeezebox would be shut out of streaming Sirius/XM.

This was a cyber reveille for me.  While it is possible to listen to SiriusXM on moble devices if one has  a subscription, it would require wearing headphones or dedicating a mobile device as a streaming radio server. The internet and android SiriusXM app can be sluggish and tough to quickly tune. For me, that may be OK when out of pocket but seems unwieldy for desktop usage. It was a deal breaker for me, akin to Amazon Kindle phasing out the text-to-speech option on their e-ink reading devices (but keeping the feature on the Kindle Fire).  This called for an upgrade of sorts. 

While a Thrifty Techie hated to get another toy, making do with a hobbled technology which has already been discontinued seems penny wise and pound foolish.  So I sought out the other major internet radio manufacturer–Grace Digital.

Grace Digital had a similarly designed internet radio to the Logitech Squeezebox–the Mondo.  The Mondo relies fully on WiFi whereas the Squeezebox has an ethernet port. But the Mondo has RCA jacks making it more convenient to plug into a stereo system. The Mondo allows for I-Heart Radio app, which would help in listening to Blaze Radio programming.  But most importantly to me, a software upgrade from Grace Digital makes to Mondo able to stream SiriusXM.

As a Thrifty Techie, I am confortable getting a refurbished unit from a trusted source. So I checked a major online auction site and on line stores to learn more information and price check.  On the Grace Digital webpage, refurbed units were selling for 33% off however there was a 30% off for Logitech customers, hence for a few dollars more, I could get a new unit with the 30 day unconditional return option and one year manufacturer’s warranty. So this time, a new piece of hardware made thrifty sense.  

But my Logitech  Squeezebox won’t collect dust in the technology graveyard.  Now the unit will be moving bedside to act as a clock radio.  Along with the headphone jack, it will make for an excellent network media device for counterprogramming to a spouse vegging out to Keeping Up with the Kardashians and the ilk.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Clinton EMails-- Not Just a Technological Glitch

Carly Fiorina impeaches Hillary Clinton's Email Shrouding

MSNBC's Ed Schultz excused Hillary Clinton as being technologically challenged for not understanding that a person can have two email accounts on one device. Perhaps, but not exactly someone who confidently took the bridge to the Twenty First Century.

Nor was the Clintons' insistence on exclusively relying upon their own private email servers for official State Department business a thrifty technology decision. But the fact that these email servers were conveniently wiped clean when under federal scrutiny allows inquiring minds to wonder what electronic communications were being shielded. 

Is Hillary Clinton Just Technologically Challenged?

During Hillary Clinton's brief media appearance at the United Nations, President Obama's first Secretary of State claimed that the kerfluffle concerning Hillary's emails stemmed from the fact that she did not want to carry two smartphones to have two separate email accounts. 

Syncophants in the Lamestream Media, like MSNBC's Ed Schultz, sought to sympathize with Hillary's alibi by suggesting that older people are overwhelmed by technology.

The problem is that but a fortnight ago, Hillary Clinton admitted that she now  carries both an iPhone as well as a Blackberry.  So Special Ed's technologically challenged excuse both rings false as well as suggesting that the 67 year old Mrs, Clinton is not quite with it.

Hillary's assertion about not being able to have two email accounts on a smartphone seems silly to most Americans.  Of course, the matter is not the technological capability but control.  Personal emails on a work issued handset becomes the employer's property.  This is why many people dual fist cell phones. For federal functionaries, the standard was a secure phone provided by the government and an unsecure phone for personal emails. That is an inconvenient truth for Madam Secretary Clinton.

But how can Hillary plausibly posit being technologically challenged when the domain was established the day Mrs. Clinton's confirmation hearings for Secretary of State began in the Senate in 2009.  That sounds kind of suspicious for an official who is uncomfortable with technology.

As Mrs. Clinton questionably claimed that she had adhered to all controlling legal authority on preserving federal records, Hillary refused to surrender the server to an independent authority to vet the scrubbed email account as it contained emails from her and President Clinton.

While this press availability was meant to tamp down a scandal which was obscuring positive earned media for the Hillary 2016 proto-campaign. But the event may have multiplied the questions among ordinary Americans and intensified the political and legal pressures associated with Hillary emails.

h/t: Kevin Siers