Friday, May 4, 2012
By Jack Johnson, Boulder City Review
The annual Spring Jamboree celebration is back this weekend, May 5 and 6, in Bicentennial Park and the surrounding area.
Presented by the Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature live entertainment, a car show, food, arts, crafts and more.
“It’s a great way to be with your family and have everyone get to do a little bit of everything,” chamber Chief Executive Officer Jill Lagan said.
Boulder City is a half hour from downtown Las Vegas and the Strip, easy to get to and worth the trip.
Adam Yauch of The Beasty Boys RIP. VChatting takes over teen culture. Dumping Movie Theaters. Wardrobe Retro presents challenges. Broadcast Schedules to be announced over the weekend. "The Advengers" sets sites on "Avatar" to be top film of all time.
Beasty Boys Founder dead at 47 of cancer. Adam Yauch, one-third of the pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at the age of 47, Rolling Stone reports. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
The Skinny: Is it too late to get tickets for a Saturday matinee of "The Avengers"? Get my assistant on that. Friday's headlines include a look at the weekend box office, a peak at pilot buzz at the networks and yet another story about the woes of Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications' OWN.
From the LA Times Company Town blog. Click here for the latest industry news.
All around the world. "The Avengers" opens Friday in the United States but it's already a blockbuster thanks to the $250 million the movie has raked in overseas. Here, it is expected to take in about $150 million this weekend. The record opening for a movie in North America is the $169.2 million for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2." Box office preview from the Los Angeles Times.
Take that! Samuel Jackson, star of "The Avengers," took to Twitter to bash New York Times critic A.O. Scott, who didn't give a totally glowing review of the blockbuster. "Avengers fans, NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let's help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!" Jackson tweeted. Hope Jackson at least tweeted a thanks to the paper for the glowing profile it ran of the actor in its Sunday magazine earlier this week. More on Jackson's tweet and the reaction from The Wrap.
It's not a pretty picture. The number of daily players for DrawSomething, a game developed by OMGPOP, has plunged 30% in the last 30 days on Facebook. The count has dropped to just over 10 million on Thursday from a little more than 14.5 million daily players at the beginning of April, according to AppData.
This likely is not welcome news for Zynga Inc., which paid $180 million, plus an additional $30 million if certain milestones are reached, for OMGPOP in March. The high price comes largely on the strength of DrawSomething, though OMGPOP has created more than 30 other games, none of which have drawn as many players.
Zynga declined to comment on the decline.
Stock analysts have expressed reservations about OMGPOP's ability to deliver on its princely acquisition price. "Zynga must improve monetization and retain gamers as the initial 'buzz' of the game wears off over the coming months in order to justify the ... price tag," Doug Creutz, an analyst with Cowen & Co., wrote in a note to investors in April.
Though traffic is not a perfect indicator of how much money a game is generating, a decline in players does mean that the pool of potential customers is shrinking. As a result, Wall Street investors like to keep close tabs on the "daily active users" charted above.
But the chart shows only part of the picture for DrawSomething, specifically the Facebook part. It does not count the game's performance on mobile devices, where DrawSomething is equally if not more popular.
Daily Dose: It was three years ago Saturday that the first "After the coffee" appeared in this space. While the Morning Fix's actual anniversary is a few weeks earlier (exact dates are hard to find in the archives), it was the "After the coffee" phrase that was the start of the column finding a voice. So to see how far this space has come, take a look back at the May 5, 2009 column. It looks pretty primitive.
Let the buzz begin. With just over a week until the broadcast networks unveil their new schedules to advertisers at the upfront presentations, executives are all locked away in pilot screenings deciding what new sitcoms and dramas will make the cut. Once that work is done, the schedulers jump in and try to figure out what show will go where. Then, in a final act of madness, the networks will premiere most of these shows in a two-week period in the fall and wonder why so many flopped. A look at how pilot season is wrapping up from Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Deadline Hollywood.
Focus on your strengths. Cablevision Systems Corp. said it wants to exit the movie theater business.
The Bethpage, N.Y.-based cable company said it plans to sell its Clearview Cinemas circuit, which has 230 screens in 45 locations, to concentrate on its core business.
"We think someone else could do better with that asset than we could,'' Chief Financial Officer Gregg Seibert said on a conference call with analysts Thursday. "Hopefully it will be a robust process."
The announcement came as Cablevision reported a sharp drop in earnings during the first quarter, when net income fell to $54 million compared to $104 million from the same time a year ago. Revenue was $1.7 billion, about the same as the first quarter of 2011.
The results reflected the sale of AMC Networks last year and an increase in spending to upgrade its network.
While Cablevision added more subscribers than expected -- 7,000 basic video subscribers -- shares in the company fell by more than 8% during early trading Thursday after results were reported.
Finding that special look. With period pieces on the rise in television, it is creating a lot of challenges for the wardrobe folks who have to come up with authentic yet still stylish outfits for actors. The Wall Street Journal looks at the lengths wardrobe people will go to find that look that just screams 1864!
Still not tired of reading about OWN? Business Week weighs in with its piece on the bumpy road Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications have been on with the cable network OWN, which has struggled to find an audience.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Betsy Sharkey on "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
Pew Study shows teens v-chatting, sharing videos and texting more than phone or other communication.That stereotypical image of the American teenager glued to the phone needs an update.
A new study from the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project found that 37% of Internet users ages 12 to 17 participate in video chats using such applications as Skype, Googletalk or iChat -- and girls are more likely to engage in v-chats than boys.
"As more and more devices in our lives have video capabilities -- as laptops and computers come with built-in video cameras, and many smart phones have cameras that allow for video chatting, for taking videos -- teens are taking advantage of that," said Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist with Pew Research Center.
Lenhart said teens enjoy socializing with friends and family -- and video adds another dimension to these interactions. Teens whose families earned $75,000 or more annually were more likely to use video chat, as were those who frequently send text messages, use the Internet and access social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the study found.
More than one in four Internet users in this age group records and uploads video to the Web, according to the study. Unlike six years ago, females are just as likely to share videos as males.
The study also revealed something parents might find surprising: 13% of Internet-using teens stream video live for other people to watch online.
"We don't know anything about the content of what's being served," Lenhart said. "It's important not to necessarily go straight to the negative. ... It could be live-streaming an event, or a video blogger live-blogging your experience."
The findings were culled from a survey of 799 teens conducted between April 19 and July 14, 2011, in which the subjects were queried about a number of online behaviors.
-- Joe Flint and others
Follow me on Twitter and stay ahead of the curve. Twitter.com/JBFlint
By DAVID BROOKS
But, over the past few months, something has changed. The elite, pace-setting universities have embraced the Internet. Not long ago, online courses were interesting experiments. Now online activity is at the core of how these schools envision their futures.
This week, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology committed $60 million to offer free online courses from both universities. Two Stanford professors, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller, have formed a company, Coursera, which offers interactive courses in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics and engineering. Their partners include Stanford, Michigan, Penn and Princeton. Many other elite universities, including Yale and Carnegie Mellon, are moving aggressively online. President John Hennessy of Stanford summed up the emerging view in an article by Ken Auletta in The New Yorker, “There’s a tsunami coming.”
What happened to the newspaper and magazine business is about to happen to higher education: a rescrambling around the Web.
Many of us view the coming change with trepidation. Will online learning diminish the face-to-face community that is the heart of the college experience? Will it elevate functional courses in business and marginalize subjects that are harder to digest in an online format, like philosophy? Will fast online browsing replace deep reading?
If a few star professors can lecture to millions, what happens to the rest of the faculty? Will academic standards be as rigorous? What happens to the students who don’t have enough intrinsic motivation to stay glued to their laptop hour after hour? How much communication is lost — gesture, mood, eye contact — when you are not actually in a room with a passionate teacher and students?
The doubts are justified, but there are more reasons to feel optimistic. In the first place, online learning will give millions of students access to the world’s best teachers. Already, hundreds of thousands of students have taken accounting classes from Norman Nemrow of Brigham Young University, robotics classes from Sebastian Thrun of Stanford and physics from Walter Lewin of M.I.T.
Online learning could extend the influence of American universities around the world. India alone hopes to build tens of thousands of colleges over the next decade. Curricula from American schools could permeate those institutions.
Research into online learning suggests that it is roughly as effective as classroom learning. It’s easier to tailor a learning experience to an individual student’s pace and preferences. Online learning seems especially useful in language and remedial education.
The most important and paradoxical fact shaping the future of online learning is this: A brain is not a computer. We are not blank hard drives waiting to be filled with data. People learn from people they love and remember the things that arouse emotion. If you think about how learning actually happens, you can discern many different processes. There is absorbing information. There is reflecting upon information as you reread it and think about it. There is scrambling information as you test it in discussion or try to mesh it with contradictory information. Finally there is synthesis, as you try to organize what you have learned into an argument or a paper.
Online education mostly helps students with Step 1. As Richard A. DeMillo of Georgia Tech has argued, it turns transmitting knowledge into a commodity that is cheap and globally available. But it also compels colleges to focus on the rest of the learning process, which is where the real value lies. In an online world, colleges have to think hard about how they are going to take communication, which comes over the Web, and turn it into learning, which is a complex social and emotional process.
How are they going to blend online information with face-to-face discussion, tutoring, debate, coaching, writing and projects? How are they going to build the social capital that leads to vibrant learning communities? Online education could potentially push colleges up the value chain — away from information transmission and up to higher things.
In a blended online world, a local professor could select not only the reading material, but do so from an array of different lecturers, who would provide different perspectives from around the world. The local professor would do more tutoring and conversing and less lecturing. Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School notes it will be easier to break academic silos, combining calculus and chemistry lectures or literature and history presentations in a single course.
The early Web radically democratized culture, but now in the media and elsewhere you’re seeing a flight to quality. The best American colleges should be able to establish a magnetic authoritative presence online.
My guess is it will be easier to be a terrible university on the wide-open Web, but it will also be possible for the most committed schools and students to be better than ever.