Hot Naked Grannies Rule Memories of '04

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Before wholeheartedly embracing the new year, it's always helpful to look back at the grand moments of recent times.

The best spam I received all year? That's a tough one. The best subject line that I assure you I never opened was Hot Naked Grannies. As a friend said, "That's wrong on so many levels." The best trend in spam? That has to be all the pitches for fake Rolexes. ("As seen on the Weather Channel!") I greatly prefer the watches to the usual crudity and discount-pharmaceutical ones. I have noticed that I rarely get mortgage spam, though, while a friend of mine who already has a mortgage mainly gets those offers. Somehow, the universe is out of balance.

Least-interesting spam? "Meet Christian Singles With Christian Principles." Great. Junk e-mail that promises I won't get laid but will probably still feel guilty afterward. Spam I wish I'd received? Probably "Last warning shit face". Sounds like it might be from the student-loan people, doesn't it?

Hey Dave, what's the dumbest press release from 2004? Well, I must admit I didn't plan ahead and save all of them. So the nod has to go to a recent one from Bell ExpressVu for hyping a really pointless new feature for satellite-TV subscribers. It's an on-line casino you can play on your television using your remote control. And, best of all, according to the news flash, it doesn't involve real money. Well, that's where the pointless part comes in. Irrespective of your views on easy access to gambling, if there's no cash on the line, then why bother? Let me tell you, phony on-line gambling is not the killer app for satellite TV. High-definition video signals are.

Here's some good news. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the Copyright Board of Canada did not have the authority to collect a tax on MP3 players. It had been grabbing between $2 and $25 on every one sold.

There's also good news for radio fans. It looks as if we might get legal access to satellite-radio signals, with proposals from both American companies--Sirius and XM--in combination with Canadian partners. Sure, there's a monthly subscription fee (about $13) and you have to buy a specialized receiver for your home, car, or backpack (the portable units are a tad bigger than the devices we've become used to), but the programming is great. Imagine 100 channels of talk, comedy, sports, news, music, or old radio shows (there's almost enough bandwidth for an entire station of Abbott and Costello doing their "Who's on first?" routine), most without commercials. There's also been a bit of a comeback for the role of the noble DJ on these channels, and, since both proposed networks will be required to add some Canadian content, we can all hope that the great John Tanner and JB Shayne can be enticed out of retirement.

How about trends? Anything encouraging? Well, way back in the early 1990s there were attempts to bring portable game play to the masses, but the screens were small, the units were hefty battery-drainers, and they were too expensive. The current wave of portable devices, like Nintendo's nifty dual-screen DS and the forthcoming Sony PlayStation Portable, have a lot more promise. I've already seen SkyTrain-riding gamers play networked DS games together while sitting in different places, which looks like fun.

When the Sony PSP comes out (next March, supposedly) it will also support video playback, provided that the movie companies release films in the small optical-disc format Sony is using. Then again, Sony does own a movie studio and a large library of films, so maybe the company sees this as the ideal proprietary platform for portable video, one of those convergence things. It remains to be seen whether or not consumers will choose that option over the hard drive--based video/MP3 players already out. Of course, those players don't let you play games and most (but not all) require the use of a computer to move programming onto them. Sony might end up sneaking a credible new format for movies into millions of homes by virtue of building it into a desirable gaming device.

What about those Netizens? I understand they have some nutty names for themselves. Let's say I was reading a Web log and wanted to give a couple of bucks to the writer. Who would I send it to?

That's right.

No, who would get the money?

Every penny. And why not? She deserves it. She worked hard to write that blog. Do you want Who to starve?

No.

Well then, pay her. Use PayPal.

Anyone else who deserves a nod for clever names?

You could send cash to John Doh!, or you could pay Happy Lemming, Archie Leach (which is Cary Grant's real name and a clever pun on the Net practice of leeching: downloading without sharing), Chemo Savvy, or Paperbag Writer. But don't send any money to Virile Vixen, because I don't think he/she has completely figured things out yet.