Thursday, March 22, 2007

What's Better than Cleaning up Dog Poop? Cleaning up Fake Dog Poop!

I admit I'm a bit out of touch in the world of dolls, but I just saw a commercial for a doll that has me at a bit of a loss. Apparently it's a Barbie product from Mattel that's been out for a while called "Barbie Doll with Tanner the Dog." Tanner is a a cheerful little pup who Barbie has to take care of.

Now, I will set aside the banality of playing with a toy that is responsible for another toy for a moment so I can address an even more ridiculous scenario. You feed Tanner pellets and then when you press down on Tanner's tail, he poops. That's right, he poops and then Barbie has to clean it up.

Admittedly I'm not a pet owner and probably never will be because I think it's silly. Part of the reason I think it's silly is that people claim to own pets and then walk around cleaning up their excrement. I don't see that as ownership so much as a really lousy part-time job. To design a toy based on this notion may be the dumbest thing I've ever heard of.

See this brilliant feat of engineering in action below:

Tracking Buzz Around the World

Buzztracker has been around for a while, developed originally in 2002 by Craig Mod, but I just discovered it through the Yahoo! Buzztracker widget. The goal of the site is to show the interconnectedness of news from around the world. It's a pretty simple concept that's very nicely executed (abridged from the the About):

"Buzztracker consists of two types of pages. Daily Indexes and Individual Location Indexes. On the daily index page, you see a list of cities with percentages next to them. The number represents the percentage of news stories that city is associated with for that day.

Locations that appear more often are represented by red circles on the map. The more frequently the cities appear, the larger the circle. Connections between locations are determined by intercontextual referencing in news articles. These connections are represented by lines between locations. The stronger the connection, the darker the line."

Just go check it out. It's cool.


Beer Launcher: Ugly and Accurate, Like Randy Johnson

While I think the beer launcher created by a Duke University engineering student is well-designed and pretty cool, I have to assume the final product will be a little more attractive. This thing wouldn't look appropriate anywhere but in a Duke University engineering student's dorm.

Also, I think he might want to add a laser site to it since though it may be accurate once it's aimed properly, the trial and error required for aiming it might get messy and, potentially kill a pet. Watch it in action here:

Unrelated to the beer launcher, perhaps I just hadn't noticed, but Metacafe inserts two ad links after a video ends. I think that's a good strategy, but A) the links should be relevant to the video just played b) if they don't already, they should offer the video producer ad space there, and c) they should include space for the "Replay Video" link within the video space as well as "Related Videos."

I also think it's a great idea to show how much the video producer has earned by posting their video. What a great incentive to get others to post quality content instead of the stupid crap.