Vampire Diaries Prelude a Bloody Tease for CW Fans?

[show=vampirediaries size=large]How do you build buzz for a show that hasn’t come out yet, and is targeting vampire fans, whose needs are already being met by True Blood and Twilight? Retrofit directors producers Chris Hanada and Tanner Kling have a lot of experience making web series designed to get fans excited about pre-established TV franchises like Heroes or Smallville — but for the CW’s upcoming new series The Vampire Diaries, they’ve taken a prequel approach.
The Vampire Diaries: A Darker Truth, which premiered last week, is a four-part series written by Diaries staff co-producer Sean Raycraft and directed by Kling and Hanada that’s meant to serve as a prelude to the teen vampire drama that kicks off Sept. 10th. In preparation for this review, I tracked down a copy of the show’s pilot script, which is adapted from the L.J. Smith book series of the same name and has resulted in pretty standard CW fare with a True Blood twist. The series’ focus is on Elena (played by Nina Dobrev), a teenager with a tragic past who becomes entangled with vampire brothers Stefan (Paul Wesley) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder). Teen angst ensues, albeit fairly edgy and well-written teen angst that tackles some serious issues — props to Dawson’s Creek creator Kevin Williamson and co-writer Julie Plec for that.
While Vampire Diaries is all about Elena, A Darker Truth belongs to an entirely different character. Jason Harris (Matt Perello) is an enterprising young man armed with a laptop, a DV camera and a mission: His sister Joanne was recently killed, and he suspects Stefan, whom he’s thus followed from New York to the sleepy little town of Mystic Falls, Va., (where the series takes place, thus enabling the web series to be shot on the same locations as its parent show). Read More about Vampire Diaries Prelude a Bloody Tease for CW Fans?

The Future of Work: The Freelancer Report 2009

freelancerreportThis week I’ve been speculating on the Future of Work and the types of skills that might be required. However, hindsight can provide useful clues to the future, so it’s important to reflect on existing behavior in order to determine where we’re headed.
Between April and June of this year, online accounting service FreeAgent surveyed its users. The result is “The Freelancer Report,” an in-depth study of 535 freelancers and small businesses. Though the respondents were mainly based in the UK and the Netherlands, and the survey was primarily intended to understand the impact of the global recession, it provides some indications of trending behaviors and make for interesting reading. Read More about The Future of Work: The Freelancer Report 2009

Could the Palm Pre Run on Verizon’s “Open Network”?

verizon-logoAfter some Palm Pre daydreaming this weekend, a thought suddenly hit me. Didn’t Verizon (s VZ) introduce an open, “any apps, any device” plan in late 2007? The premise was the ability to have Verizon certify a non-Verizon device for their network so that you could bring your own device. The Palm (s PALM) Pre will be a Sprint (s S) exclusive here in the U.S. through 2009, but it uses the same CDMA technology that Verizon uses. Could you buy a Palm Pre from Sprint and get it certified to work on Verizon’s network, I wondered?

Maybe that was more of a nightmare than a dream. Last year, there weren’t a ton of non-Verizon devices allowed on to the network, and most of those were business or vertical-market specific. I suspect the certification process is so long and arduous that it would be faster to simply wait for the Pre to become an official Verizon offering in 2010 or beyond.

Popular opinion when it comes to Verizon appears to be a “great network but poor devices” thought. The sad thing is: a carrier stands to increase voice and data revenues by allowing more flexibility with devices. They don’t have to subsidize the hardware, and they can still reap the benefit of increased plan revenues. Sounds like a winner to me. It also sounds like I’ll be using the Pre on Sprint’s network in 2009 or I won’t be using it all.

JDSU to Cut 33 Percent of Its Workforce

JDSU (s JDSU), an optical component and test equipment company that once commanded a megabillion-dollar market capitalization (which earned them a place in my book, “Broadbandits”), has fallen on hard times. Despite growing demand for bandwidth and connectivity, JDSU, like many of its peers, has been skating on thin ice. A sharp downturn in demand from the communications sector saw the company miss its second-quarter fiscal 2009 revenue target by six percent; it reported sales of $357 million vs. consensus estimates of $372 million. The company is going to see even further shrinkage, saying it expects revenue for the quarter ending March 28, 2009 to range from $275-$300 million. In order to survive, JDSU needs to make some drastic moves. It’s palming off a factory in China to contract manufacturer Sanmina-SCI. In doing so, JDSU get to slash 2,200 jobs, about a third of its entire employee base, according to RBC Capital Markets’ Mark Sue. About 2,000 of those folks are going to be now working for Sanmina-SCI, doing precisely what they were doing except will not be paid by JDSU. “Another 150 employees  will remain JDSU employees and will focus on corporate functions and product development in the region. Sanmina-SCI will use the same equipment, the same lines, the same people and the same processes as when the fab was under JDSU ownership to support JDSU customers,” a company spokesperson tells us.

jdsu10years

Bad Things (or Layoffs) Happen to Other People

Americans, by nature, are an optimistic bunch. Even in tough times, there is something to be optimistic about. Where others see the glass half empty, we see it as half full. That is probably the only reasonable explanation for the findings of this survey conducted by Glassdoor, a Sausalito, Calif.-based startup that ranks employers by taking anonymous feedback from their employees. [digg=http://digg.com/business_finance/Bad_Things_or_Layoffs_Happen_to_Other_People]

Despite the dismal global economy, widespread layoffs and rising unemployment, 61 percent of surveyed employees would not be willing to take a pay cut if they discovered their job was in jeopardy. A whopping 40 percent expect a pay raise in the next 12 months, despite job cuts at their employer. Of those eligible for an annual bonus, 57 percent expect a bonus and 40 percent do not expect a bonus

The most amusing part? Four out of five employed adults say they are not concerned about being laid off from their job in the next six months. Just one in five employees are concerned they will be laid off during the same period. Perhaps the pessimistic 20 percent are reading the news.

adpemploymentreport

Today, a report put out by ADP, a payroll services company, showed that 693,000 jobs were lost in December — 220,000 more than ADP was expecting based on a previous survey of economists. Of course, when it comes to others, job cuts are fair game. Forty-two percent of employees say they are concerned their company will lay off other employees in the next six months. As they say, bad things (and layoffs) happen to other people.

In New York, Downturn Kills Free W-Fi

[qi:___wifi] New Yorkers, long used to getting free Wi-Fi Internet access in some of their bigger parks, will no longer enjoy the connectivity. WiFi Salon, a company that was offering free Wi-Fi in 10 parts of four New York City boroughs, shut down because of a lack of financing. The city is in budgetary doldrums and didn’t want to spend any money on free services. Marshall Brown, WiFi Salon’s founder, hasn’t given up on the dream and started a new company called Wired Towns that offers free Wi-Fi in partnership with Business Improvement Districts. Union Square is already up and running. Bryant Park still has a functioning (and free) Wi-Fi network. Glenn Fleishman, the Wi-Fi guru, shares his views and ponders on why the service got shut down.

The New York situation is not unique. Across the country, the aftershocks of the credit crunch are impacting municipal broadband projects. City- or municipality-wide broadband efforts depended on cities’ ability to sell bond to fund these projects. The booming economy allowed cities to garner extra tax revenues, which allowed them to easily raise the bonds to raise funds to spend on various projects — including MuniFi.

Did Google Issue a Bear Call?

Updated with correction: A few months ago, Sequoia Capital doused the ever-ebullient Silicon Valley with a bucket of ice cold reality when it laid “good times” to rest. Today, one of Sequoia’s all-time stars laid a big wreath on that grave in the pages of The Wall Street Journal: Google (s YHOO). And while it didn’t implicitly state that it might face tough times next year, comments by its CEO amount to a proverbial bear call, which could mean bad news not only for Google but also for the rest of the media and advertising sector. Read More about Did Google Issue a Bear Call?

Off-Topic: Why Citibank Should Vanish

citilogoAfter a long day, I returned home to find a mound of junk mail clogging my mailbox. Of note was a letter from Citibank informing me that it was jacking up the interest charged on my credit card, adding more fees for foreign transactions and other such issues that might result from an economic meltdown. Not much of this impacted me personally, but something bothered me about this letter dubbed a “notice of change in terms and right to opt out.” Read More about Off-Topic: Why Citibank Should Vanish

Online Santa Claws For Sales This X-Mas

Santa Claus Online retailers are not immune to the current credit crunch and are feeling the heat in a big way. The New York Times says that online spending dropped 4 percent for the first 23 days of November 2008, compared with the same period last year. According to comScore, online spending was about $8.19 billion vs. $8.51 billion in 2007. They are forecasting a flat holiday season at $29.2 billion.
Their estimates are more conservative than the $30.3 billion in online spending this holiday season projected by eMarketer, which estimated a total of $136.8 billion in holiday spending. In comparison, comScore is projecting $131.3 billion in total. Despite this lower number, I think comScore is being too optimistic. Read More about Online Santa Claws For Sales This X-Mas

Cisco To Shut Down For 4 Days At Year End

ciscologoonwallUpdated with Cisco Confirmation: If you want to know how bad it is going to get for all of us in Silicon Valley, just look at Cisco Systems (s CSCO). For first time in its history the company is going to shut down for four days at the end of the year, according to a report by UBS Research. Remember when such shutdowns were associated with industrial era companies? Well, this is the new past as they say. I heard that a major internal annual event has been put on hold as well. Read More about Cisco To Shut Down For 4 Days At Year End