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Paul Fountain

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Comcast, the NFL, and the Economy

Comcast and the NFL have been locked in a power struggle since the inception of the NFL Network.  If you haven’t heard about it, here are the basics:  NFL Network wants Comcast to carry its channel on the basic cable tier.  But it also wants to charge a higher franchising fee than many other networks, despite the fact that it carries only 8 NFL games per season, and therefore has compelling programming only on Thursday nights for two months a year.  Comcast claims that it would have to charge all of its subscribers a higher price to move the NFL Network to the basic tier, based on the higher franchising fees.  This is bad business for both entities - Comcast irritates its customers by forcing them to upgrade to a premium sports tier for the NFL Network, and the NFL is losing a tremendous amount of advertising revenue because their games reach a very small audience on the premium tier.

Regardless of who you think is wrong or right in this particular display of greed and self-importance, I hope you can agree with me that this is a business deal between two corporate entities that should be solved (or not) between themselves.  Unfortunately, for a while now, the FCC has been involved, and apparently, the FCC wants no part of the NFL-Comcast mess.  I can’t blame them - these rich crybabies need to sort out this problem on their own.  Real Americans have real needs from their government in these difficult times, and they don’t involve watching football on Thursday nights.

Thing is, as this fight drags on and the economy continues to sink, both sides are going to lose out.  We pay a hefty bill to Comcast each month for Internet and TV service, and I’m starting to take a long look at the nickel-and-dime charges they tack on for every cable box, and HD service on each additional TV.  These prices were bumped up earlier this year, and our bill just continues to inflate.  I’m about to scale back on the cable boxes and sign up for a Netflix subscription.  For $8.99/month, you can have unlimited streaming movies to your XBOX 360, with many in HD.  That beats the pants off any Comcast premium channel price.

As for the NFL, they need to quickly get their head out of the clouds and realize that they’re lucky to be in a dominant position in the world of sports.  They need to negotiate resonably with Comcast and the other cable operators to get more of their games on TV.  They also need to start listening to their fans about on- and off-field issues like end zone celebrations (we like them) and continued reinstatement of thugs and hooligans like Adam Jones (we don’t like them).  Sports will be an important escape for Americans as we navigate through the new depression, and there needs to be a focus on making the games fun and competitive, instead of merely lining the NFL’s already deep pockets.

Posted in Football. Tagged with , , , , .

Caffeine = Code

(Originally Posted 6/26/2006)

This is one of the first equations programmers learn. Very few programmers I have ever known stay away from “the juice” completely. Our daily work requires focus, concentration, and a high level of mental energy. I am convinced that there is a linear relationship between the amount of caffeine consumed and the amount of code written in a single day. When I don’t have coffee, I tend to stare at my code with little understanding of what to do next.

One of our programmers at InsureMe has a shrine to Rockstar energy drink on his desk. My personal addiction is a Starbucks cappuccino, every morning, if I can afford it. The office coffee isn’t bad either - it’s at least a step or two above your average grocery store brand. Some are into soda - I’ve seen structures made out of Coke or Mountain Dew cans that approach the Eiffel Tower in both size and complexity. Yes, we coders love our caffeine. There is a programming language named Java. Do you think that’s a mistake?

Think caffeine is bad for you? Probably not. I shall quote:

“However, caffeine’s popularity in the computer industry may also be due to the special mental boost caffeine confers, which helps improve accuracy and speed in completing certain tasks, including writing computer programs and operating computer systems.”

Posted in Software. Tagged with , , .

Selenium Remote Control

(Originally posted 7/26/2006)

I promised a while back to write about the test tool I chose for the automated testing project I’m working on at InsureMe. At this point I have basically completed phase I of my project. I have been using, and am fairly happy with, an open-source tool called Selenium Remote Control (hereafter, SRC). So I guess a product review is in order …

To quote SRC’s website:

Selenium Remote Control is a test tool that allows you to write automated web application UI tests in any programming language against any HTTP website using any mainstream JavaScript-enabled browser.

And to quote Pulp Fiction:

That’s a bold statement.

Continued…

Posted in Software. Tagged with , , .