Those other headphones look like medical equipment

This interview with Jimmy Iovine on the eve of the announcement of Beats Music goes a long way towards explaining how Beats and Apple might work together. Appreciation of sound and the ability to call bullshit on existing music recommendation engines (at 23:00),

I put in the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan as my two favorite groups and asked for 10 songs.

What I got back were 3 John Entwistle solos, 1 Keith Moon solo record, 1 Mick Jagger, 1 Moby Grape, and 1 John Lee Hooker record.

What am I going to do with that? That’s the math solution.

“iTunes is great but it needs a step forward. . . most technology companies are culturally inept. . . we’re trying to marry math with emotions.”

Native Advertising Brilliance

The folks at Huge are to be commended on a truly brilliant native advertising campaign. Hired by the makers of President Cheese, they were stuck with a way to somehow drum up social media interest in a gooey wheel of stinky cheese. What they came up with will be talked about in hush three-martini lunches up and down Madison Avenue for years.

The client was nervous, this was their first foray into the wild, wooly world of the twitter. Corporate lawyers were all over them, pouring over every syllable. The head cheese at President Cheese demanded review of all creative, ensuring everything stayed on message. The campaign, carefully honed after months of travel up and down the corporate approval ladder was, “The Art of Cheese”

Each of the 140 characters were hand-crafted and chiseled to exacting specifications. Plurals and Singulars became the topic of weekend off-sites. Active or passive voice? How do we capture the tone. We want to be friendly but not too casual. @DrFNFurter was studied closely and discussed at length. The result?

2014-05-23 at 1.40.15 pm

The brilliance of the mundane. Each part of the tweet and embedded image is engineered to be ignored. This tweet was designed to fail. Two favorites? Perfect! Too much attention and all their hard-earned work would have been wasted.

Knowing that a twitter account with a less than 300 followers would get lost in the wind, the agency set into motion the crucial second stage of their viral campaign. Buying placement on a visible tech blog, they took out a native advertising placement that would allow them to weave a story of pity and woe that would unleash the full sarcastic fury of the internet wilds.

Social Media Experts at Work
Social Media Experts at Work

The story would talk about how hard people worked to come up with their lonely tweet. People would point and laugh at the lead image showing how serious people can look while staring at rando twitter profiles with a background image screaming, “$450 crack party”

Choice quotes would get pulled out and shared,

Social media is definitely perceived like you’re just dicking around on the internet all day, and I do a fair amount of that,

and

I think that if people give you a hard time for it, it’s really because they’re more jealous that they don’t have a fun job.

All this additional attention would turn a boring tweet blipped out to 227 followers into a focal point of conversation. President Cheese and the Art of Cheese would be the hot topic of discussion. Laugh all you want but that tweet screen-captured above that had only two favs? It’s on fire!

Engineered Experience at Starbucks

While Taco Bell worked several years to engineer the Doritos Locos Taco, Starbucks has honed its formula for the optimal coffee delivery experience. Apparently the seats at McDonald’s are engineered to get uncomfortable to sit in for longer than 30 minutes. Can you think of any other examples of Taylorism to guide consumer behavior?

Engineering of the Doritos Locos Tacos

Doritos Locos Tacos

Fast food is engineered. The product development process is no different from other things that are engineered, it has a prototype phase, followed by QA, and user testing.

The central issue was that Taco Bell’s shells used a different type of corn masa than Doritos chips. But it wasn’t simply a matter of adjusting the recipe. In order to create the DLT, the teams had to consider everything from seasoning mechanics to the taco’s structural integrity throughout 2010 and 2011. “Frito-Lay wanted what’s called a ‘teeth-rattling crunch,’ so they wanted it to snap and crunch more than the current Taco Bell shell snaps and crunches,” Creed says. “So we had to get that formula changed, then we had to find a way to deliver the flavoring, and then the seasoning. I mean, it was actually important that we left the orange dusting on your fingers because otherwise, we’re not delivering the genuine Doritos [experience].”

– from Deep Inside Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco

Radio Taiso

Radio Taiso (ラジオ体操) is as core to growing up in Japan as the Pledge of Allegiance is to an American. Before school, kids are lead through these exercises which have been a standard for years. Wikipedia says that Radio Calisthenics was something actually imported from the US where the MetLife was broadcasting a 15 minute exercise routing during the 1920s.

Here is your plain, vanilla, NHK-approved Radio Taiso video.

Because it’s so universal, there are endless parodies. Here are a few I found.

and my favorite, Salaryman Taiso

Bonus Video – Japanese Precision Walkers

The Lighthouse Found Me

Lighthouse #5

After delivering a print out of my previous post summarizing all my notes and theories (thank you everyone who chipped in their ideas) I found this on my front door step. Written on the side was the phrase

et respondendum est quod

which translates to, “and the answer is that”

I still haven’t quite figured out the translation of the riddle that made up the phrases on the side of each lighthouse. I’ll leave that for another day. Tonight I raise a glass to the Honorable Admiral Banyan Azimuth. Thank you for making life interesting.

Flummoxed by Alameda Lighthouse Mystery

Lighthouses of Alameda

About a month back I read with interest a strange article in our local paper. The byline was from a Hon. Admiral Banyan Azimuth, Retired and it described a mysterious society, acronyms, a puzzle, and hidden treasure. All good material for a quest.

The Alameda Lighthouse Appreciation Society (ALAS) has collaborated with the North American Lighthouse Regents (NALR) in Fort Digby, Manitoba, as well as the Nordic and Icelandic Lighthouse Guild (NILG) in Reykjavik, Iceland and the El Faro la Luz de la Admiracion Surtido in Yelapa, Mexico to bring a variety of mini-masterpieces to the fair Island City. Four scaled-down lighthouses (one for each point of the compass) ranging from four- to six-feet tall will be calling various obscure locations in Alameda home for the month of April.

[snip]

No more information will be related on this rare and iconic installation, so Alamedans will be left to their own devices, ingenuity and cunning to locate these glowing treasures, and to break their ancient code. All April Foolishness aside, residents who decode the lighthouse mystery could win a prize.

Despite the fact that the article mentions that the lighthouses were made by a groups called the Lighthouse Model Assemblers Organization which spells LMAO, and that the article was published on April 1st, I set out to see if I could find any of the mentioned lighthouses. To my surprise, I did spot one fairly quickly, over near the bike bridge that takes you from Alameda Island over to Harbor Bay. After several more afternoons of exploring the Alameda coastline, I have discovered two more of the four model lighthouses mentioned above.

See flickr photo gallery

Each lighthouse, they stand about 4 feet tall, has what looks like Latin phrasing on the side. They read:

maria _ _ vitas _ _ et _ _ inimicum _ _ non _ _ est _

_ aspera _ replete _ macilentum _ _ portus _ desset _ _ casus _

_ _ iter _ _ est _ temporibus _ sed _ copia _.

It looks like phrases from a poem of some sort. Using Google Translate, I put in the English translations below each phrase:

maria _ _ vitas _ _ et _ _ inimicum _ _ non _ _ est _
Maria _ _ lives _ _ and _ _ enemy _ _ not _ _ is _

_ aspera _ replete _ macilentum _ _ portus _ desset _ _ casus _
_ rough _ fill _ lean _ _ port _ benefit _ _ case _

_ _ iter _ _ est _ temporibus _ sed _ copia _.
_ _ journey _ _ east _ the times _ but _ store _.

The cities and organization names listed in the article are curious too:

  • Alameda Lighthouse Appreciation Society (ALAS) in Alameda, California
  • North American Lighthouse Regents (NALR) in Fort Digby, Manitoba
  • Nordic and Icelandic Lighthouse Guild (NILG) in Reykjavik, Iceland
  • El Faro la Luz de la Admiracion Surtido in Yelapa, Mexico

I mapped each location as best as I could (as far as I could tell, there is no Fort Digby in Manitoba) but that didn’t help.

Lighthouse Map

And here I am stumped. Can anyone push this forward?

UPDATE: There was a suggestion from Nancy (see comments below) that the style of lighthouse might and its location might provide a clue. Here’s where I found the three that I have located. Could these perhaps be replicas of actual lighthouses that exist in real locations?

Lighthouse Southeast
Lighthouse Southeast
Lighthouse Northwest
Lighthouse Northwest
Lighthouse Southwest
Lighthouse Southwest

UPDATE: FFFound!

Acting on a tip from a sharp-eyed reader (thanks Mike Schmitz) I found the last lighthouse on the corner of Moreland and Fernside. What threw me is that it wasn’t even on the water, casting its glow into the passing traffic.

Lighthouse #1, El Faro
Lighthouse #1, El Faro
Lighthouse #1, El Faro
Lighthouse #1, El Faro

The text beside it reads:

May the staff of Orin & the Eye of Isis light your way

To find my 3 brothers, search for a Bridge, a Port, & a Southern Shore

Good Luck!

The Bridge was the one next to the blue bicycle bridge to Harbor Bay (Southeast), the Port was across from the Port of Oakland (Northwest), and the Southern Shore was by the Encinal boat ramp (Southwest).

Mystery solved, I printed out this blog post and put it into an envelope and dropped it off addressed to the Hon. Admiral Banyan Azimuth and the kind person who answered the door promised to deliver it tomorrow.

Thank you everyone who pitched in to solve this mystery. It was truly a group effort.

UPDATE: Special Delivery!

Commercial Sync

It used be one of the lowest forms of selling out when a musician signed over their work to a brand campaign. Such was the stigma, Nike was sued for using The Beatles’ Revolution in one of their commercials. With declining revenues for recorded music, touring and merch remain the main sources of income for a working band. For older musicians that have family and want to stay close to home, Commercial Sync, or composing music for a brand campaign, can be a lucrative alternative.

A long way from the earworm jingles of the 60’s and 70’s, television advertising has become a way to not only earn the equivalent of months of work for 30 seconds of art but also a way for relatively unknown artists to break into the charts. Apple introduced America to Feist with the launch of their iPod Nano. It’s good money for the bands and if the product is right, playing back up to a brand can actually augment the band’s image and their association with a cool brand.

In the same way that Dissolve held a mirror up to the use of stock video in today’s commercials, Canadian musician Jon Lajoie has laid it all out plain as day in his video Please Use This Song. Brands are the patrons of the 21st Century.

Thanks to @jr conlin for the pointer