Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Launcher dispenses up to eight cards at a time.

One of my hobbies (now that my main hobby has become my main source of income) is reading advertisement fine print - especially television ads. Occasionally, this blog will focus a magnifying glass on such tiny print, such as this ad (which runs around the Christmas shopping months)...

"Launcher dispenses up to eight cards at a time. "

Fine print from a UNO Attack TV advertisement. Besides being shocked to discover that the UNO brand is now owned by Mattel (at least it's not Hasbro - the giant corporation which absorbed all of our childhood toys), I was puzzled that this limitation with the game warranted a fine print mention commercial - fine print usually being reserved for safety warnings and legal disclaimers. Sometimes a fine print message is required because of a lawsuit or potential lawsuit. Toy commercials always have great fine print because the commercials are usually misleading and kids are so naive. Fine print with toy commercials range from "Some assembly required" or "Faces on cards do not actually talk".

I went to the UNO website to gain some insight about the eight card warning. I found line in the UNO Action description: "This frenzied unpredictable game features unique rules and electronic card shooter that may shoot no cards or might shoot up to 8!"

Germaine suggests that the fine print was present to counter the visuals in the commercial where it looks like more than eight cards are being launched. Even the song in the commercial mentions that you might get eight cards. So all this energy was spent to clarify that while it looks like the kid is being pummeled by countless cards, he really is only being hit by up to eight at a time. How many meetings and conference calls took place to ensure that the this concept was clear?

An aside. My prediction is that Mattel is going to use the UNO brand like Nabisco uses the Oreo brand and release numerous different versions of card games with the UNO name. UNO Texas Hold'em, anybody?

Underarm marks will be lighter.

I just saw a commercial on Lifetime TV. It was for Degree anti-antiperspirant. Here's some of the fine print:

Do not attempt. (Woman does somersaults from the bathroom to her bedroom - trying to dry her underarms.)

Secret is a registered TM of Procter & Gamble. Forearm white marks. Underarm marks will be lighter. (Screen shows Secret being globbed on some woman's forearm.)

Little black dress approved.

Just baffling...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Now I can talk about it...

I had to keep quiet about the NASA and Internet Archive relationship until it was publicly announced. It was finally announced here. I hoped there would be a bigger fanfare, but maybe it's early.

So NASA HQ in Washington DC looks just like any other government building surrounding the Mall. Very nondescript except for the NASA logo (the classic one, not the "worm logo"). I don't know what I was expecting - maybe some Jetson-esque structure or something along the lines of the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. Something that would tell the world - "this place is important! It is where we plan to get our species off this clod of dirt and onto another..." However the actual style of this building could just as easily claim - "this is where you get your teeth cleaned and renew your car insurance".

Nonetheless, entering the building is very exciting. Getting a security badge and going through the metal detectors all make the visit seem so important (although going through a metal detector nowadays is so commonplace). Immediately, however, it is clear that HQ is truly just a big office building on the inside too. No flashy sci-fi, high tech stuff - only the occasional NASA space poster or informational flier about the Heimlich maneuvers. I remember going to Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, MD a couple of years ago and was struck by how much it looked like a community college campus - totally unremarkable. In my mind, NASA is a real no-frills type of organization - no need for the flash of sexy and futuristic, the standard issue office building will do...

While riding the elevator to the conference room, I saw a piece of bright pink chewed gum stuck on a rail near the back. I had to say something. "This is why I like NASA. All this high-tech stuff and here's some gum stuck on the elevator." Our good-natured NASA liaison quipped "That gum's probably been in space!" For some reason, I really liked seeing the gum. Here is an organization who is primarily known for their forward-thinking, extraterrestrial endeavors and yet their headquarters has all sorts of signs of how humans really are. Sure we can put a man on the moon, but can we keep chewing gum out of the nooks and crannies of our lives...? (Although, the recent discovery of 5000 year old chewed gum in Finland reminds me that chewing gum predates most aspects of Western civilization, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised of its pervasiveness).

So the building wasn't amazing, the people were your run of the mill folks, and yet, I'm still in awe of the achievements of this organization. This is why, in spite of all hurdles ahead, I'm so excited about this project.