pc vs mac (img stolen without permission from others who stole it without permission from god-knows-who)David Pogue, a New York Times technology columnist (and entertaining chap), posted a great video on youtube in which he sets out to “prove” that Microsoft did not rip off Mac’s ideas when it built the new, classy Vista system. (Tech catch-up note: Vista is a new PC operating system, succeeding Windows XP, that is totally different from what the Windows user is used to getting from Microsoft. First of all, it’s prettier. Second, it’s easier for the not-so-tech-oriented to intuitively navigate and do more with. Check out the official Microsoft sales page for more info.)Being a Mac user with a knee-jerk distrust for Microsoft, I was immediately interested in the video. It promised evidence that Microsoft is truly innovative and concerned with the user experience. I was looking for reasons to like Microsoft. The video, however, was not what I expected (I’m so naive — I really should have seen this coming!). Check it out: NYT’s David Pogue on Windows VistaAnd if there was any doubt, yes, I’m still proud to be a Mac user.

Did you hear the one about the mob of students who chanted affectionate cheers to the ATM? How about the massive public pillowfight in San Francisco last year on Valentine’s Day? I hear a rumor that some zombies might be planning a takeover soon…. What am I talking about?FLASHMOBS!

flashmob (FLASH mawb) n.A large group of people who gather in a usually predetermined location, perform some brief action, and then quickly disperse. —v., —adj.

Basically, you get a bunch of people in on the plan, they show up at a location minding their own business, and then at a certain time they all break out into something outlandishly attention-getting, and then suddenly stop and wander away as though nothing happened. Categorize this under “things that entertain the pants off me.”The big recent one was Feb 1 at UC Davis, where 1200 students gathered in front of their bookstore ATM, and wildly shouted “ATM! ATM! ATM!” when the central clock tower struck noon. They’re claiming this to be the biggest flashmob in Guiness World Record history.On the original Facebook Group where they organized it, they included instructions such as

“Everyone who is participating gathers around the front of the bookstore (near the ATM machines, ect), at around 11:50-11:55. Be doing something that doesn’t make anything look suspicious. Don’t laugh. Read a newspaper, a book, or talk to your friends or something. Spread out: do not make the mob yet!”

and

“When the chimes are over (or at about 12:01pm), everyone stop immediately, and walk away in opposite directions, like nothing ever happened.”

and

“WARNING! If someone asks if you’re in the flashmob, you should respond with “chicken tenders are beautiful.”

Well done, guys! Well done!You can watch the Official Video… but I like this This One better. (from DavisWiki)

You’ve heard of Second Life, right? That game that’s kinda like a cross between The Sims and Ebay? You create your own person, and then go galavanting around a virtual world with other homegrown persons, and then buy stuff (with real money) to augment your travels. It’s a HUGE company now with tons and tons of cash flow because people actually do funnel money in there for a better virtual experience. I’ve tried the game (without spending a dime, mind you), and it’s disturbingly impressive. Fortunately, I was on when there was a lot of server lag time, so I got frustrated and never went back. I shudder to think what might have happened to me if it had been working smoothly…Second Life is great satire material. If you think about it, it’s absolutely absurd that a whole bunch of people are sitting around at their computers having conversations with each other, travelling the world, loving every minute of it, and never moving a muscle for hours and days on end. Enter Get a First Life — a one-page satire on the game. Go check it out. It’s wonderful and a quick read. (“Find out where you actually live! Fornicate using your actual genitals!”) It’s worth noting that they’re making fun of an empire with expensive lawyers here. Now here’s the great part: Get a First Life was expecting to receive a nasty Cease and Desist letter from Second Life for hacking their logo and using their image. Instead, Second Life decided to play Good Politics and send them the opposite of a Cease and Desist letter. An excerpt:

“We do not believe that reasonable people would argue as to whether the website located at http://www.getafirstlife.com/ constitutes parody – it clearly is. Linden Lab is well known among its customers and in the general business community as a company with enlightened and well-informed views regarding intellectual property rights, including the fair use doctrine, open source licensing, and other principles that support creativity and self-expression. We know parody when we see it.”Moreover, Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody. Indeed, any competent attorney is well aware that the outcome of sending a cease-and-desist letter regarding a parody is only to draw more attention to such parody, and to invite public scorn and ridicule of the humor-impaired legal counsel. Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception.”In conclusion, your invitation to submit a cease-and-desist letter is hereby rejected.”

May we all learn to not take ourselves too seriously. Moreover, may we learn that contradictory views, when presented with a sense of humor, tend to drive publicity for both sides in a mutually beneficial manner (note how this post includes links to both sites). I find this whole thing beautiful.