Movie Review: Fido (Speaking of zombies…)

The movie Fido recently had a wider release.

It’s a black comedy about zombies as house slaves and is quite funny at times. It includes the very funny (with crude humour) Scottish comedian Billy Connolly – he has no dialogue in the movie but still conveys his ‘lines’ well. It also includes Dylan Baker who is very well cast in the 1950s-style era that the movie is set in, Carrie-Anne Moss in a great and far from Matrix-Trinity performance, along with new comer and Culkin-like-expression-maker K’Sun Ray.

A delightfully entertaining and original movie. Includes zombie violence, head shots (of course) and bloody feasting.

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Retail zombies

When was the last time you went for a browsing in a large furniture outlet? Did you make it passed the greeter? Did you end up with a new living room set? If like me, you dodge the greeter you’re probably familiar with that feeling of the sales people slowly homing in on you… it’s unnerving – like a game of PacMan especially in those larger stores which are like mazes. At they don’t feed on captured prey in packs.

What really grinds my gears (as Peter Griffin would say) is that in most of these situations you’ve barely taken a step inside the building when the crouching tiger pounches and you’re not ready, but when you have real questions there’s no-one to be seen (they have moved to other prey) or they can’t answer the important questions like “OK so what is the call out time on that warranty service you wont shut up about?”.

I was going to called this “retail vultures” (getting people signed up on credit or extended warranties aka “profitable insurance”) but “zombies” better reflects the pace of the encroaching movement.

I happened to walk through a used car lot this week and was greeted with “Hello, are you aware of our sales this week?”. Now of course this is a no-win baited question – the trick is to give them a completely different line that will throw them off long enough so you can run away, or to ask a question that you know will not get an answer but at least requires consultation.

Of course the point is that these tactics and scripted conversations work on the majority of people and result in real sales, but I think I may invest in a t-shirt that says “Yes I’m already being helped” 🙂 I know these are nice people doing what they do well. In other cases they are following marketing orders and I hate to see it extending to undeserving retail checkout people turned into robots with lines like “Do you have a predisposition-spending-more-because-we-said-you-are-loyal card… No? Would you like one?”. Worse than that is the “Will you be using your more-money-for-share-holders loyalty/points/credit card today?” – a presumptuous and potentially insulting question.

How long can you cruise around your local whatever store without being incercepted?

Slow release product marketing

Do you suppose that every year or so someone at Gillette thinks “Actually, the best a man can get now includes one more blade – we never thought of that before”? Probably not. But I wonder how long they can keep adding blades – OK, I admit to having a Power Fusion razor with the 5+1 blades.

So yesterday I heard the recently released Rogers (Canada) commercial again saying that their Home Phone service (which they say is not VOIP but I’m sure it technically is – they try to differentiate it because it’s locked down so home-brewers need not apply for the most part), now has free calls between anywhere in Canada if both ends are on the service. Wow – image that, free in-network VOIP calls – how generous… after how long now? OK, so they maybe wanted a certain critical mass of adopters for their service. I’ve been having free VOIP calls for years and I don’t have to pay any fixed rental for it. Rogers is getting my money for a cable connection, so why should I pay to just send data over it? Cue the marketing script response…

This is what I call slow release product marketing. All the potential is practically/probably already in there, but for economic and/or investment-recouping and/or profit milking purposes, you just don’t get the benefit of it, and most people are oblivious enough to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Look me in the eye and tell me…

I recently got a SeeEye2Eye; actually I got two after a clerical error on my part. I envisioned something like this some time ago and happily someone went to the trouble of making one. It basically allows you to look in the camera at the same time as looking at the other person in a video conferencing app; put one of these on each end of the conversation and you are looking at each other eye to eye.

In action picture from the product website

It certainly works but you really need the person on the other end to have one. On the downside: it is bulky; it darkens the image; the depth of the unit needed to incorporate the angled one-way mirror means it can’t be arranged well on one side of a large wide-screen monitor; with a bright screen, lines are added to your camera image due to the reflection of the screen on the plastic ridges in the top of the unit.

Windows Live Messenger can’t be positioned quite properly with it because of the hidden windows/menu frame that prevents the conversation window from being flush with the top of the screen, but that’s a WLM issue and not a show stopper.

So I thought of this a few years ago and someone has made it. Now I’m going to wish for a USB 2.0 device that has a screen and camera combined with eye-to-eye alignment that either can be treated as an additional display that I can position the video window on, or has an SDK that is used by apps like WLM so it can be a dedicated desktop eye-to-eye video conference solution – anyone?