Call from Samuel Jackson

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Karla woke up this morning to a call from Samuel Jackson, asking her to go watch Snakes on a Plane.  What a brilliant idea!  VariTalk has a service that lets you customize the message with your friend’s name, phone number and some other personal information.  Then it calls your friend with your number on the caller ID and plays a recording with their name and everything.  Oh, you can send a message to the same number twice by putting a “1” on the beginning of the number.

Now, go send this to all your friends

Joe Garza (1978-2006)

  

One of my favorite stories about Joe Garza takes place nine years ago when a few of us spent spring break at a condo in South Padre Island.  It was your typical spring break, we drank a lot of beer and hung out on the beach and in the clubs (at least the ones we could get into) and yelled “watch out! it’s the chupacabra!!!” the whole time.

Jason Clark and I flew down together and met up with Joe, Matt and Laine.  We stayed up every night drinking and listening to Joe play his acoustic guitar and sing until he was hoarse.  Of course, Joe was the highlight of the trip, in many different ways.

First, we drove down to Matamoros (against all of our parents’ warnings).  Joe was a wonderful tour guide, taking us to Bigo’s (a really good restaurant) and on to an all-you-can-drink nightclub.  All five of us piled into his tiny, yellow Geo Storm, to get across the border.  We all fit pretty well considering that he had removed the hatch to make it into a convertible.  I remember we pulled up to the restaurant and some guy was trying to guide us into a tight parking spot.  I think we hit both the car in front of us and the one behind us when we were parallel parking.  The parking attendant said “No problem!”, then offered to clean our windshield or wash our car.  We ate at Bigo’s and then spent an evening at the hay-covered $5 all-you-can-drink bar with a trough for the urinal and of course, the mechanical bull.  Here’s a picture of what how small that car is, if you don’t remember…

Storm

Then came the rain.  With most convertibles, you can just flip a switch or pull the top up.  Not with this one… Jason and I were riding in the back seat holding a tarp up to protect us from the storm.

The rain cleared up a bit, so we hung out at the pool that night.  Joe had made friends with some girls in our building that had a second floor condo with a balcony.  Matt and Jason might have to correct me if i’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure we started daring each other to jump off of their balcony into the pool.  Now, it’s like 3am and everyone’s about to pass out.  I’m still hanging out by the pool and Joe’s playing some Sublime and singing louder and drunker than ever.

Just as we’re all about to pass out, Joe decides to jump off the balcony into the pool.  This isn’t a diving pool, it’s more like a kiddy pool.  He dives straight in and hits the bottom of the pool (shoulder-first).  I think Matt and Laine were already passed out and there was no way they were getting up… and anyone that knows Jason, knows his “there’s no way I’m doing that” chuckle.  Joe was seriously in a lot of pain and I was probably the most sober.  So, he and I got into his car and took off, looking for a hospital.  We stopped at a gas station and the attendant said there wasn’t a hospital on the island!

We’re in South Padre Island, one of the most famous spring break spots where tens of thousands of kids get drunk and do crazy things every night.  So, you’d expect they would have a first class hospital specifically designed to handle drunken accidents.  Not a chance, no hospital open at 3am!!!

So, now we’re heading out to Brownsville …now it’s raining again, we’re in a hatchback with no hatch and a moaning, drunk Joe Garza is in the passenger seat.  His car would only safely go about 50 mph in the rain, so it was a long drive.  I think Google Maps lies, there’s no way you could make it in 45 minutes.

We made it safely to the ER and he gets sent right into to see the doctor.  I think he had dislocated his shoulder and they were able to push it back into place, but I don’t think they gave him any pain medicine since he had been drinking all night.  In fact, I think they made us wait until he was sobered up a bit.  It was at least two hours, because I watched the entire movie, The Birds, in Spanish with English subtitles.  That was one of the longest, most memorable nights of my life.

I really wish we could have spent more time together over the last few years.  I have no excuses for not being a better friend.  I think Joe was the only friend of mine to wish me a Happy Father’s Day this year.  I wish Jake could have met him.  I’ll never forget his music, his smile and amazing personality.

RIP Joey

Lotsa Flickr pics

Flickr
Karla just scanned a bunch of pictures and we now have 3,361 photos on Flickr now!  Actually, we really have 6,824 total, but a bunch are marked as private.  It’s amazing how many people we know use the online services to just print or share some of their pictures and they don’t think about the value of archiving them.  Computers crash all the time and photos are lost.  Of course, you can backup your pictures to DVD, but how many people actually do that regularly.

Karla posted some of good photos of Jade

Plus, there are some great pics of us and friends from when we worked at the Olive Garden

Spyware

Direct Revenue

MSNBC ran a great story about one of the largest spyware companies, Direct Revenue.  Their software was bundled in with Morpheus and some other popular applications.  The article points out that spyware applications have accounted for 11% of the total Internet ad revenue, an estimated $2 billion.  It sounds like the staff at Direct Revenue has a great view of their end users.

The unsophisticated computer users subjected to Direct Revenue’s ads had a nickname among some staffers: “trailer cash.”

I’ve been pretty careful about not clicking on any ads or installing any software that bundles in adware, but I’ve still managed to get infected a few times.  In fact, we don’t have any anti-spyware tools even installed on our computer since Karla and I know better than to click on pop-ups.  It’s great to hear that even one of the the Direct Revenue employees got a taste of their own medicine.

Even Aurora’s creators fell victim as the program froze computers at Direct Revenue. One sales staffer, Judit Major, documented receiving more than 30 pop-up ads in one day, according to e-mails. Her computer crashed four times. “We are serving WAY TOO MANY pops per hour,” wrote Chief Technology Officer Daniel Doman in a June e-mail to the company’s brass. “If we overdo it, we will really drive users to get us the hell [off] their machine. We need to BACK OFF or we will kill our base.”

This form of advertising is extremely profitable and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.  Spyware typically targets less savvy computer users and these people are not installing programs such as Windows Defender or SpyBot.  It’s amazing to see the number of large companies signing up with Direct Revenue for this type of advertising.  Ben Edelman has documented a partial list of the Direct Revenue ads.

JPMorgan Chase confirms that it advertised with a Direct Revenue unit through the middle of last year, but says it was unaware of any spyware activity. Delta and Cingular declined to comment. Vonage didn’t respond to inquiries. 

The companies that are using products from Direct Revenue are addicted to the higher volume of click-throughs than they get with other less intrusive methods.

Nute [a top sales executive] had a trademark line for corporate sales pitches, according to current and former sales employees. “It’s like crack,” he would say. “Once you try it, you’ll keep coming back for more.” Nute declined to comment.

Google Checkout and eBay

Google Checkout

Last week, Google announced it’s Google Checkout service, direct competition to PayPal, and eBay has already banned it???  PayPal is really a good service, but it needs some good competition to improve.  Hopefully, there will be enough demand for Google Checkout (or some other competition) that will force eBay to loosen it’s grip on payment processing.  Google has added the ability to track all orders purchased using the Google Checkout service in one place.  So, you can use one simple web page instead of jumping between all of the different merchants.  I’m already happy with the way Gmail discovers tracking numbers in order confirmation pages, so I can’t wait to see how their Checkout service works.

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