Boston

Watching baseball with Jim Rice

Yesterday we had the distinct honor and pleasure of watching the Red Sox vs. Texas Rangers game in the company of Jim Rice and talking baseball with a true legend of the game, who’s going to be inducted into the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame this year.

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Jim spoke frankly about the differences between baseball during his time and baseball today, including players’ salaries, team-spirit (or sometimes the lack thereof), and some of the current Red Sox players and their strengths and weaknesses. He was also cool about signing various Red Sox gear, baseballs, and posing for some photos (above with my wife and son). Thanks, Jimmy!

More photos of the game, batting practice, and Jim Rice are on my personal photo website

Volvo Ocean Race – Start of Leg 7

Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race started in Boston today, and we took our boat into Boston harbor to watch the start of the race. What started out as a beautiful and sunny day quickly turned into pea soup at noon when the fog started to rolled in.

The Volvo Open 70 racing boats are, of course, spectacular to watch – especially when you can get a few photos up close.  Here is Puma:

And here is Ericsson 3:

The harbor was as busy as ever with over one hundred spectator boats watching both the race of the fleet inside Boston harbor and the departure of the fleet.

As we left the harbor and were already on our way back to Salem Sound, we encountered the last boat in the fleet, Green Dragon, as she disappeared into the fog on her way to Galway, Ireland.

More photos as well as high-res versions of the above images can be found on my personal photo website.

Google Earth with photo-realistic 3D buildings

Oops. Where did the entire fall go? Can't believe the holiday season is on our doorstep and I haven't found time to post on the blog for over a month. There, now I've done it: I have committed the cardinal sin of blogging. I've blogged about not blogging. You are just not supposed to do that...

On a more happy note, I was very excited to see the recent update of the 3D building database in Google Earth that adds tons of photo-realistic building images for several major US cities. This is a view of Boston from above the harbor, with Faneuil Hall on the right:

Boston3D

If you have an iPhone, make sure to also try the Google Earth app for the iPhone, which is pretty amazing, too.

So what does this have to do with XML, you ask? All the buildings are encoded in KML, which is an open XML-based standard for geo-spatial information. And Google has created a huge 3D Warehouse of building images that are available in KML as well as other formats. To learn more about KML, take a look at this tutorial or the KML reference.

FaneuilHallBoston For example, this image on the left is a rendition of the Faneuil Hall model from the 3D Warehouse that was used in the above image on Google Earth. If you download the KML file from the warehouse, it comes in a KMZ archive, which is a ZIP-compressed package file. To explore this file in the XMLSpy XML Editor, all we have to do is add the KMZ file extension under Tools/Options and specify that it is a ZIP conformant file format.

Similarly, add the KML extension and specify that it is XML conformant. Now you can open all KMZ files in XMLSpy, see the files contained in the package, and directly open the KML file to view the XML markup it contains (this is just the beginning of the file):

FaneuilHallKML

More info on the new 3D buildings and a few screenshots of New York can be found on the Google Earth Blog. So get yourself a copy of Google Earth and start exploring...

They just never give up

If there is one thing to be said about the Red Sox, it is this: they never give up. Yesterday's game 5 of the ALCS vs. Tampa Bay was the most amazing baseball game I ever saw. We were fortunate enough to have seats right along the first base line - between first base and the Pesky pole - and experienced the greatest postseason comeback since 1929 first-hand.

The mood before the start of the game was great, with the crowds cheering for 松坂 大輔 (Daisuke Matsuzaka, or "Dice-K" as he is known to Boston Red Sox fans) as he came onto the field to start his warm-up exercises:

Daisuke Matsuzaka warming up

Understandably, the mood turned a bit more somber as the Sox fell behind 5-0 over the first couple of innings and finally were down 7-0 at the top of the 7th inning.

That was the point in time when about 20-25% of the people left Fenway Park, and when the Tampa Bay Rays started cracking open the champagne in their locker room.

But then the Red Sox did the impossible and turned things around. Starting with Dustin Pedroia's line-drive to shallow right field, which got Jed Lowrie home for the first run, the mood in Fenway Park changed. And then David Ortiz made a true comeback possible with his 3-run home run deep into right-field:

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From that moment on, nobody sat down in Fenway Park until the single by J.D. Drew at the bottom of the 9th that allowed Kevin Youkilis to score, giving the Sox their 8-7 win and a ticket back to Florida for game 6.

This game will be an instant classic in baseball history, no doubt!

Impressions from PodCamp Boston 3 (#pcb3)

DSC04154 I was at PodCamp Boston 3 yesterday and wanted to briefly share a few impressions here. The funny video is at the bottom, so if you have no patience and just want to hear Chris Brogan, you may scroll down a page or so... :)

The event was held at Harvard Medical School and was completely sold out. Bloggers, Audio and Video Podcasters came together to discuss and present all aspects of Social Media in a community-oriented style.

Even though there was a schedule of formal presentations, a lot of the real action happened in the hallways, coffee breaks, and in several impromptu sessions.

I found most presentations to be very good (e.g. Stever Robbins aka the Get It Done Guy), but some were also a disappointment and I walked out - only to run into people in the hallway and strike up a great conversation. One panel discussion was almost putting me to sleep.

DSC04165 Being a rather podcasting-oriented event you could always find people in the hallway being interviewed by others, and in some cases the interviewer and interviewee would trade roles after a few minutes - it was actually pretty funny to watch.

One thing that was pretty amazing during the event was to observe others in the audience during the presentation sessions: about half the people were working on laptops during the presentation, the rest was on Blackberrys, iPhones, and I saw one person even working on a PSP. I also noticed one person holding an old-fashioned paper-pad. Most laptop and iPhone users were on Twitter reporting live from the event, or looking up whatever the presenter was talking about on Wikipedia, Google, etc. and taking notes.

DSC04167 Probably the best session I was a part of wasn't a scheduled presentation at all. As I took a quick break in the cafeteria, an impromptu event formed (and was promptly twittered about) where a couple of people came together and started a discussion on Old Media vs. New Media. It was a lively discussion that encompassed everything from advertising, journalistic styles, different ad sales strategies and staffing levels, to how Social Media is affecting the way we consume media, respond to advertising, and making purchasing decisions. Several people were recording the session with high-quality video equipment, but then stopped after a while - I guess their memory cards must have been getting full by then.

So I whipped out my trusted old Sony DSC-T50 digital camera and recorded about 20 minutes worth of raw 640x480 video. Not a quality that video podcasters would aim for, but sure enough in those 20 minutes I captured this great statement from Chris Brogan:

I apologize for the bad audio-quality (since I only used the built-in mic), so if you are having trouble hearing it, this is Chris Brogan's insight: "Wait a second. I buy my media. And I watch ads for free. Hmmm..."

The other conclusions reached during the discussion were:

  • that Social Media actually causes large companies to lose control of their brands - and some even argued that they are only losing the illusion of ever having been in control of their brand;
  • that Social Media actually forces companies to focus on creating a great product, because anything less than a great product will be exposed very quickly;
  • that any Old Media company who doesn't "get it" will soon be reduced to irrelevance.

PodCamp Boston 3 is still going on today, but I unfortunately can't make it into town due to the new puppy. If you are also missing the event, you can follow live updates from PodCamp Boston 3 using Twitter Search (aka Summize).

Talking of Twitter, if you'd likee to follow my updates, you can do so here...