AIRTRAIN A HIT

They said it wouldn’t fly — and it hasn’t. But the AirTrain JFK takes you to your flight, and it’s taking more and more people: Nearly 1 in 10 arriving and departing passengers to JFK International Airport make use of the computer-operated rail shuttle.

I’m a fan. I’ve taken the subway-AirTrain connection a couple of times now, most recently for my quickie weekend trip to Tampa Bay last month. It was a relative breeze. It takes a while to get out there from Manhattan, probably a minimum of 45 minutes; but a cab would take nearly as long and cost ten times as much. So it’s well worth it, provided you don’t have a huge load of baggage (which I always strive to avoid).

BLOG SEEPAGE INTO PERSONAL FASHION

A couple of days ago, I stopped by Brooks Brothers to pick up a couple of ties. In particular, I was in need of a green tie, as my wardrobe was lacking one. Since green’s my favorite color, it was a glaring omission for me.

I found the tie with the green pattern pictured here. As soon as I saw it, I liked it. Maybe it was the two-thirds shade of green to the one-third purple ratio; maybe it was the grid-like squares.

Anyway, I wore it today for the first time. And in an idle moment, I stared at the tie; then I stared up at my computer monitor, which happened to be displaying this very blog.

And it hit me: The tie pattern, with the green square-within-square motif, is very reminiscent of the header image on this jasmin live page.

So I guess I know why the tie grabbed me so suddenly in the store. Yes, without realizing it, my blog design informed my clothing purchase. I bought what was, in effect, a Population Statistic tie, the purple specks notwithstanding.

It’s probably a bad sign when your blog’s graphic design influences what you wear. On the bright side, I guess I have the beginnings of a CafePress inventory for this blog.

MEDIA BISTRO MIXIN’ ON DELANCEY STREET

A couple of days ago, I attended another Media Bistro freelancer mixer. I knew it had been a while since my last one; I didn’t realize until just now how long a while — since April!

I would have posted a recap earlier, but it’s been a busy week. And as I alluded earlier, that mixer turned out to be just the preliminaries for events that went deep, deep into the night. Put those two elements together, and I simply haven’t had the personal resources to jot too much down, until right now.

Briefly: I’d have to say I felt like even more of a freelancing fraud than I did the last go-round. Yes, I’m technically still a consultant at my current gig; but I’m completing my fourth month on it, and it’s basically turned into an open-ended assignment now (no complaints). So I’m pretty much a regular in the office, to the point where most people there are surprised to find out I’m not really “one of them”.

So it’s not like I’m scrambling for gigs, like most of the people I talked to at this party were. Given that, I felt a little foolish offering advice like, “Just make sure you keep up with your livejasmin contacts” and such, when I wasn’t in the same soup.

In any case, I went with the same “Blogger” title that I did last time. It elicited plenty of reaction, as I was the only one around who sported that on my nametag. I got a distinctly negative vibe from a couple of people from it, I think. If they were offended, too bad. It’s amusing to think that a creative-professional crowd like that could get miffed over a label.

The party was held on the rooftop of The Delancey, on (appropriately enough) Delancey Street, practically in Brooklyn (the address is practically at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge). Depending on who you talk to, the place is either an overhyped dive or a swingin’ pad. I sensed elements of both; the rooftop, where the Media Bistro event was held, was double-booked with a Japanese language club barbecue, but I didn’t run into any other negatives.

I got to chat with a couple of interesting folks. One girl, named Andrea, had a gig with CRT-Tanaka, writing about the furniture industry. (She’s looking for bigger and better things.) Another, Geoff Fox, related to me that he’s into blogging as well. Finally, an extended conversation with one Marlynn Snyder informed me that he’s doing what he wants, when it wants to, and couldn’t be happier.

That’s about the size of it. The rest of that night? It didn’t end until somewhere around 4AM, and I’ve been paying for that the rest of this week. Let’s leave it at that.

THE BACKFIRING OF “GOOGLING” AS A VERB

Google’s domination of Internet search certainly has done wonders to advance the company. That perch enabled it to become the Web’s preeminent advertising syndicate.

But take away those two growth engines, and it’s been rough sledding. Google can’t seem to make a go at blogging, online video distribution, and social networking — Web frontiers for future sustainability beyond search.

Unusually harsh words from the analyst arena, which in the past has been gushingly pro-Google. I guess they’ve woken up to the single-source nature of the search giant’s fortunes — 95 percent of which come from the sole ad revenue channel.

The one qualifier when looking at the challenges to Technorati, YouTube, and MySpace: All of Google’s versions are still in beta, and haven’t been widely promoted publicly. Google Blogsearch, for instance, is still practically trapped in the Google Labs incubator. Presumably, once Mountain View has the formal coming-out party for its live sex chat apps, it’ll be more of a fair comparison.

Still, that doesn’t obscure the fact that, indeed, Google’s mindshare among most Web users begins and ends with search. In fact, the company’s been emphasizing for so long how it’s the uncluttered alternative to Yahoo! and other search engines that it’s hard to reverse course now; it had done too good of a branding job during its rise.

ZUNI-DOLL TERROR, FROM MY CHILDHOOD

For years, I didn’t know the name of the horror movie I happened upon on television one afternoon, back in the fabled 1970s.

But I couldn’t forget it. Because the memory of those creepy-malevolent voodoo dolls, scurrying evil-quick in chasing some screamy woman around her apartment, never left me. Even now, I vividly remember the chills my 8-year-old self felt when watching the woman dash into her bathroom, slam the door behind her, and then look down to see a knife carving its way in-and-out under the door. I don’t think I ever had nightmares from this psychotic imagery, but it definitely scared the bejesus out of me.

It wasn’t until much later that I found out the movie was Trilogy of Terror, a made-for-TV schlockfest starring Karen Black. I guess there were two other vignettes that made up the film, but who cares: The action began and ended with the killer voodoo creatures, known as Zuni dolls.

And it wasn’t until even later — yesterday, in fact — that I found out that I wasn’t the only Seventies kid to have this acid-trip of a flick burned into the consciousness.

Which means a generation of tykes were scarred by this crazed afternoon-TV spectacle. If only the V-chip were around back then…

I also found out that the Zuni Fetish Warrior Figure is available for purchase. Doesn’t quite look the same as I remember seeing it, on a tiny black-and-white screen. Just the same, don’t anybody put it on my birthday-gift list.

JIVE DUDES BANTER AND THE SEQUEL

Nothing like some random blog goofiness to bring to mind the Jive Dudes’ dialectic dynamism in Airplane!.

Yes, even in such a broad farce, it’s embarrassingly Caucasian to serve up such nonsense. But it was funny, especially with the subtitles.

Incidentally, I’ve always thought that the sole funny part of the ill-advised Airplane II: The Sequel was that, years later into the ’80s, the Jive Dudes were still talking that way.

WI-FI PHONES: BASED ON LEECHING?

The concept’s been kicked around for years, but it looks like wireless phones that can piggyback onto wi-fi Web hotspots for connections are closer to reality, as Skype and ISPs collaborate with handset manufacturers to make it happen.

This looks to be a threat to the telcos, which rely on people burning through their plan minutes. If your phone can regularly bypass the wireless provider’s celltower, especially in a wi-fi dense area, then what’s to stop the average consumer from going with a wireless plan with the minimum number of minutes? (I’m assuming you wouldn’t be able to forego a wireless plan altogether — for instance, you’d still need the phone activated, with an assigned phone number, etc.)

But if it is a threat, the telephone companies’ first reaction is to (uncharacteristically) co-opt it.

So everyone’s onboard, it seems.

I can’t help but notice, though: In order to be a viable out-and-about option, these phones would rely upon unsecured hotspots; that’s the only way to maintain a fairly consistent connection while switching from one zone to another. In that case, isn’t this an example of wi-fi leeching, which is generally frowned upon? I can’t believe everyone involved would want to dip into that morass.

And that’s the viable solution. These phones would be high-and-dry when encountering encrypted connections. I imagine the phones could be configured to tap into a WEP-protected setup, but that doesn’t jibe with the operating principle here — the ability to use a mobile phone while in transit, when a celltower can’t/won’t do. I guess the owners of such phones can sync up with their household wi-fi access points, and the corporate-campus environment cited above seems like another ideal setting for a wide-area network solution. But in that case, I can’t believe the phone companies would play along, ceding network access time in physical areas where the majority of phone usage would occur.

So I’m not sure this concept is fully thought-out. It sounds to me like it’s dependent upon the indefinite continuation of hundreds of open wi-fi hotspots in tight physical zones, even as encryption becomes more of an out-of-the-box solution with wireless equipment. Take that away, and the wi-fi switching trick seems like a rarely-usable option.

HOUSING SLOWDOWN: CONDO-KILLER

Looks like now is the right time for me to spring for a condominium: The decompressing national housing market is sending loads of high-flying condo projects begging, including kill-offs of long-planned projects.

The set of dominos that are tumbling have a familiar look.

And this inflated market — in many cases, the real-estate equivalent of vaporware — was sustained solely by the prolonged sellers’ market over the past several years. This is precisely why a housing slowdown won’t have a much-hoped-for soft landing — the speculation-driven luxury market overexpanded, leaving it dangerously exposed. Their hard times aren’t going to be restricted to just them; the entire construction and development sector’s going to feel the ripple effect.

As that rolls in, there are deals to be had.

Maybe a relocation to Miami is in order. Except that I love New York so much right now. Besides, the bubble-pop will hit Manhattan soon enough.