Archive for December, 2011


Android vs iOs, Facebook vs Google, Mac vs PC

The great technology battles of the past… and future

“In the long history of tech rivalries, rarely has there been a battle as competitive as the raging war between the web's wonder twins” — or so says Fortune Magazine, referring to the war raging between Facebook and Google for nothing less than “to see which of them will determine the future of the web.”

Together with Amazon and Apple, Fast Company says that these four companies are in a ferocious competition to control the future of… just about everything. From platform (Google’s Android against Apple’s iOs) to hardware (Apple’s iPad against Amazon’s Kindle Fire) to user base (Facebook against Google+) to data (Apple’s iCloud vs Amazon’s Cloud Drive vs Google Cloud).  High stakes indeed.

Fast Company also points out that these companies’ “inevitable slide into irrelevancy likely won't be at the hands of one of their fellow rivals. As always, the real future of tech belongs to some smart-ass kid in a Palo Alto garage.”

Still, not all technology battles have a clear winner or loser, though some definitely do, as you can see in this great infographic from MintLife.


Top 10 Top 10 Lists (part 2)

A look back at the best (and worst) of the year that’s nearly over.

Top 10 TV Shows

For a critic’s take on the best TV of the year, Washington Post’s Hank Stuever weighs in with his list (ranging from The Office on NBC to Downton Abbey on PBS).

—   The Nielsen Company will release its report of the most popular programs later this month — but of the 11 shows to hit the top 10 last year, singing (American Idol), dancing (Dancing with the Stars), and football (NBC Sunday Nights) were America’s favorite pastimes. Only two hour-long scripted shows hit the list: NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles.

Top 10 Political Gaffes

Time Magazine has 54 lists making up its “Top 10 Everything of 2011,” including a list of the worst gaffes of the year.

—       Michelle Bachmann makes the list at #4 for placing the “shot heard ‘round the world” in New Hampshire; the shots symbolizing the start of the American Revolution were fired in Lexington, MA.

—       Rick Perry, at #6, also stumbled over American history when he noted that “we fought the revolution in the 16th century,” some 200 years prior to the actual revolution. At #7,

—       President Obama also did a little time travel, signing the register at Westminster Abbey in the UK “24 May 2008.”

Top 10 Fascinating People

Every year, Barbara Walters puts together her personal list and we all wait with bated breath. This year she included the entire Kardashian family, the most famous sister in the world, Pippa Middleton, and Simon Cowell, among others. The most fascinating person of 2011? According to Ms. Walters, that honor goes to Steve Jobs, the first time the title was given posthumously. To see the full slide show, click here.

Top 10 Books

There is no shortage of “Best Books of 2011” lists — the editors of The New York Times Book Review have one, Publishers Weekly has one, and Amazon has a multitude.

—       The editors at the NYT chose four fiction debut novels as well as Stephen King’s 52nd novel and five non-fiction books. As a side note, Stieg Larsson’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has spent 128 weeks on the NYT’s bestseller list.

—       Amazon has compiled its editors’ picks across categories including Biographies & Memoirs; Fiction; Cooking, Food & Wine and more. Its number one editors’ pick across all categories is “Lost in Shangri-La” by Mitchell Zuckoff, who tells the tale of a WWII plane crash into New Guinea: the three members of the US military stranded in the jungle, the paratroopers who attempted to rescue them and also became trapped on the jungle floor, and the final, perilous plane rescue that was their last hope for rescue.

Top 10 News Events

It was a big year: weddings, disasters, trials, revolutions, deaths…

The Forbes Magazine slideshow presents the top news stories (as ranked by Yahoo), starting with Casey Anthony, moving through the Royal Wedding, the overthrow of the Libyan government, and ending with Occupy Wall Street


Top 10 Top 10 Lists (part 1)

A list of lists – the best of everything for 2011

A look back at the best (and worst) of the year that’s nearly over.

Top 10 Movies

The 10 nominees for Best Picture have yet to be announced, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from compiling their list of this year’s best films. Although Drive (starring Ryan Gosling) is at the top of Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers’ list, it didn’t even make the American Film Institute’s top 10.

Top 10 Sports Moments

From Time Magazine, this list runs the gamut from scandal (Paterno at Penn) to triumph (Djokovic’s first US Open win) to tragedy (IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon). To read the full list, click here.

Top 10 Small Towns to Live In

Whether you’re looking for towns with high incomes (consider Great Falls, VA or Hillsborough, CA) or towns teeming with wealthy singles (try Manhattan Beach, CA or Milton, MA), Money Magazine’s list lets you slice and dice the top small towns in the country.

Top 10 Songs

MTV and iTunes have both published their version of the top 10 songs of the year. While iTunes’ list is more scientific (based on actual downloads as of December 12th), MTV’s list is the result of a roundtable of music lovers debating and arguing over the candidates.

iTunes lists “We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris),” by Rihanna at number one, works through songs by LMFAO, Bruno Mars, the cast of Glee, Katy Perry and others before rounding out the top 10 with “Someone Like You,” by Adele.

MTV also includes LMFAO, Katy Perry and Rihanna, but is waiting til the very end of the year to announce whether Adele (“Rolling in the Deep”) or Nicky Minaj (“Super Bass”) will land at the top spot. These experts also included Lady Gaga (“Born This Way”) and Foster the People (“Pumped Up Kicks”).

Top 10 Commercials

AdWeek’s list puts Snickers’ “Focus Group”  ad at number 10, and Volkswagen’s peerless commercial, “The Force,” at number one. To see them all, click here.


Tis The Season For Giving

8 surprising facts about gifts and the tradition of giving

For most of us, at least one present — large or small — will be exchanged this holiday season. But do you know how that tradition began?

1.       Giving gifts goes waaaay back — in prehistoric times, kings and emperors demanded that lesser nobility give them gifts to demonstrate their loyalty.

2.      Same as last year? —According to the American Research Group, Americans are planning to spend just about the same amount on gifts this year (about $650) as last year.

3.       A gift… or a trade? —when gifts were given to someone of the same rank or stature, a reciprocal gift was expected.

4.      Santa may be a myth, but St. Nick is not — there was a real Nicholas, who lived in what is now Turkey in the 4th century. An orphan who grew up in a monastery to become a priest, he was renowned for his generosity, especially to children.

5.      “Mrrrow” means “thank you” —more than half of pet owners in the U.S.A. will give their pets a gift this season, spending an average of $46.

6.      If money is no object — every year, Neiman Marcus puts together a “Fantasy Christmas Book” of the most luxurious (and expensive gifts) for the holidays. For the man who has everything, how about a bespoke Ferrari FF for the bargain price of $395,000? Only 10 will be produced.

7.       Giving back? —According to Charity Navigator, the Black Friday four day weekend last year saw over $45 billion in sales. Arts charities took in $13.28 billion in contributions for the entire year of 2010.

8.      Electronics rule the world — in’s list of the most popular gifts going back to 1984,  ten were electronic, robotic or otherwise plugged in: Nintendo (Gameboy – 1989, Pokemon – 1999), Tamagotchi (1997), Furbies (1998), RoboSapiens (2004), Xbox 360 (2005), Playstation 3 (2006), iTouch (2007), Nook eReader (2009) and the Apple iPad (2010).



Traditions, Factoids, and Surprises for the Holidays

Best-selling songs, short days, even a century old cake

For most, December is a frantic month of cooking, shopping, celebrating, giving and receiving. A few things you might not know about the holiday season:

1.         I’m dreaming of… The Guinness Book of World Records lists “White Christmas” as the second best-selling single of all time.

2.      When the sun goes down… The Winter Solstice falls on December 22nd this year — it is the shortest day of the year.

3.      Not just for breakfast… Potato pancakes (“latkes”) are a traditional food served during Hanukkah as a nod to the story of a single day’s supply of oil lasting eight days.

4.      Who needs a ring?Kissing under the mistletoe dates back to ancient Greece and the festival of Saturnalia and to this day in some parts of the world, a kiss exchanged under the mistletoe is seen as a promise to marry.

5.        Nothing beats the smell of a Christmas tree … The National Christmas Tree Association reports that 37.1 million real trees are sold in the United States every year.

6.        It’s still edible…traditional fruitcakes are soaked with liqueurs or brandy, which are natural preservatives. In 2003, Jay Leno took a bite of 125-year-old fruitcake and lived to joke about it, “it needs more time.”

7.     Chrismahanuk-wha?… Chrismahanukwanzadan, according to the UrbanDictionary, is a term meant to cover all the religious holidays of December: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and Ramadan.

8.        Happy Birthday… Sir Isaac Newton, Jimmy Buffett, Humphrey Bogart, Sissy Spacek were all born on December 25th.

9.        Oh, Henry… “The Gift of the Magi” — one of the most famous Christmas stories — was written by O. Henry in 1906, allegedly at Pete’s Tavern in New York City.

10.      It’s a Wonderful Life… considered the most popular Christmas movie of all time, the staff at Moviefone put this 1946 film second after “A Christmas Story” (1983), followed by “Miracle on 34th Street “(1947), “Scrooged” (1988), and “White Christmas” (1954) to round out the top five.