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December 4, 2009

Friday Recap: Writers’ Room Fly on the Wall Edition

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If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to sit in the Bruce Clay, Inc. writers’ room for a week, wonder no more.

After receiving a wake-up call about what’s really valued here at the BCI blog (Thanks, Kim!), I’m going to take a different approach to today’s end-of-week recap. Today you get to be like a fly on the wall of the BCI writers’ Skype chat. Reader, beware. Susan, Paula and I come across some weird things, and you never know what’s going to happen in there. [Yes, we skype even though we’re all in the same room. You would too. Don’t judge. –Susan]

It started with the mourning of the CrunchPad, Michael Arrington’s touch-screen Web browser. The story of the demise of the CrunchPad brought a chill to my blood as I considered how it could possibly be that the product was stolen away from its determined creator. As I wrote in the chat:

[11/30/2009 8:36:08 AM] BCI-Virginia Nussey: wow. such high hopes dashed

Then Paula alerted us to some of the exciting technology heading our way in 2010. Games that are controlled by the mind are closer than I thought. Early next year, the Epoc headset will be available, along with games to play on it. The Epoc works by reading the electric information that the brain broadcasts on the inside of the skull. It can even read emotional states like anxiety, frustration and excitement. The writers’ reactions?

[11/30/2009 1:00:36 PM] BCI-Paula Allen: Whoa

Susan opened our eyes to the economics of the holidays by showing us just how expensive the 12 days of Christmas are. How come the cost of French hens went up 50 percent when it says the reason for the drop in swan prices is the falling price of fowl? [And how much does it suck to be a maid a-milking? –Susan]

Making the rounds on Twitter this week was a list of the world’s snowiest places. I’m super proud to have lived in a city on this list. Betcha never knew I was that tough, huh? Grrr… [Does anyone else think that naming Canada as one of the places is totally cheating? –Susan]

So this next one needs no explanation. Puppies, kittens and babies really are among our most favoritist items to share.

If you’re in a giving mood, check out Paula’s pick for a way to make a difference for an American soldier this year. But act quickly. December 7 is the cut-off date for warm letters to our military heroes.

[12/1/2009 3:49:55 PM] BCI-Paula Allen: This is so cool! (per @jackgraycnn)

The next day, I ran across a familiar holiday convention, with an unexpected twist.

[12/2/2009 9:24:42 AM] BCI-Virginia Nussey: an advent calendar that makes you learn and doesn’t have chocolate?

At you’ll find daily lessons for Web geeks on design and development issues. To be fair, the site’s content more than makes up for its lack of chocolate. In other holiday count-down news, Amazon is offering 25 days of free Christmas music.

Another eye opener this week was CNN’s look at analysts’ expectations of Apple’s iPhone in the months leading up to launch. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention at the time, but did you realize just about everyone thought the iPhone was going to be a big fat fail?

Both my brother and sister are in college right now and I’m constantly amazed that they can cope with the stress they’re mainlining on a daily basis. So when Susan pointed out that California’s Chapman University will be bringing in puppies for students to hug during finals week, I immediately forwarded the story on to my siblings. My sister’s response: “OBVIOUSLY THE BEST IDEA EVER!!!”

What’s not such a great idea?

[12/2/2009 2:54:46 PM] BCI-Susan Esparza: Fade in? Really? This was necessary?

Yes, Google’s big change to the search engine’s user interface is a fade in. Dude, it’s either the spotless home page or the link-filled home page. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. And, no, it doesn’t matter that you have enough money to hoard all the cake in the world.

Which, of course, seems like the perfect segue to a priceless story about pie… charts. What happens when you abuse the trust and generosity of a freelance graphic designer? He returns the favor with hilarious pie charts about how little patience he has left for your fussing about.

If you’ve visited these parts before, you know that the writers have a fondness for cupcakes. A very special cupcake go-carts hybrid can be purchased from Neiman Marcus for the basement bargain price of $25,000.

When Susan sent over this next one I was initially shocked by what, on paper, looked plainly ridiculous. But after watching, I was in stitches with everyone else.

[12/3/2009 8:42:14 AM] BCI-Susan Esparza: Guy updates his relationship status at the altar.

I feel I may have maxed out the videos I’m allowed to embed in a single post, but definitely check out this video comparing the size of stars. The perspective you get paired with the rockin’ music is totally out of this world.

On Twitter this week I’ve noticed the holiday-themed avatars rolling back on the scene. I put up my favorite holiday snapshot of me as I chomp on a candy cane, but once December’s over, I’m strongly considering using one of these awesome Twitter avatars:

[12/3/2009 8:47:42 AM] BCI-Virginia Nussey: these are nifty

Finally, Susan is heading East to liveblog SES Chicago next week. So next week these pages will be filled with coverage of the conference. If you’re just not that into liveblogging, there’s a non-liveblogging RSS feed just for you. (And thanks to everyone for helping her find the perfect cold-weather gear for the trip!) [Here’s hoping I don’t freeze in spite of it. –Susan]

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