Urban Planning

I’ve been reading some obscure ramblings lately on urban planning and the desire to continually create “a vibrant downtown.”

For years, white middle and  upper class folks have fled cities to live in the suburbs and then return to the city only to work. As can be seen by Indy’s suburban county growth, this seems to be a reasonable trend. But, our cities are different now. Young college grads want the urban lifestyle more and more than a suburban life. Oh, and gas is $4.00 a gallon.

I wonder now if we’ll see a shift in the planning of our cities. I think you’ll see more development projects featuring ascending towers and sprawling shopping centers located amidst a downtown area.

Indianapolis has always enjoyed one of the best downtown-based malls in the country at Circle Centre. Comparable cities like Detroit, Columbus and Cincinnati have always failed miserably. Perhaps this is because Indy’s transportation system sucks so bad and no one worries about funneling “the no-gooders” into the downtown area.

I think, here in Indy anyway, we’ll see a reverse trend over the coming years that’ll bring people back downtown and we’ll see a rebirth of our cities to the extent that Paris and London have.

The Anti-App(le)

Here’s what we’ve all been waiting for:

Microsoft this week offered a window into the first phase of a mega million dollar advertising campaign designed to clear up ‘misconceptions’ about the quality of its Windows Vista operating system exacerbated by in-your-face marketing efforts on the part of longtime rival Apple.

The first series of ads in the campaign were reportedly met with rave reviews last week when they were previewed at Microsoft’s employees-only Global Exchange conference.

“We know a few of you were disappointed by your early encounter. Printers didn’t work. Games felt sluggish. You told us—loudly at times—that the latest Windows wasn’t always living up to your high expectations for a Microsoft product,” the company said. “Well, we’ve been taking notes and addressing issues.”

Now, everyone knows I’m a big fan of Apple products, but come on. Seriously? Why do you need a marketing campaign to tell everyone how much your product doesn’t suck? In theory, shouldn’t your product be so amazing that it sells itself without the hassle Vista has seen?

Car Buying

I almost bought a new car this weekend. But not a new car, a new-er car. One with leather seats, a convertible top and possibly wings and a halo.

I’m trying to unload my car and trying to get myself into a position with my automobile like I’m in with my technology: buy it new the day it comes out and sell the old one to someone else who needs something older to save money.

In theory, I can save money  by never having to worry about buying a new car when my old one just runs into the ground and I’ll always have a new car.

So, for now, I’m trying to get rid of my current bug for a paltry $7,500.

Death of the Newspaper

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reading a lot about the death of U.S. newspapers. Some analysts say that print is dead and we all should just move along to the Internet. Others say otherwise, like this guy:

We live under the happy illusion that we can transfer news-gathering to the Internet. News-gathering will continue to exist, as it does on this Web site and sites such as ProPublica and Slate, but these traditions now have to contend with a new, widespread and ideologically driven partisanship that dominates the dissemination of views and information, from Fox News to blogger screeds. The majority of bloggers and Internet addicts, like the endless rows of talking heads on television, do not report. They are largely parasites who cling to traditional news outlets. They can produce stinging and insightful commentary, which has happily seen the monopoly on opinion pieces by large papers shattered, but they rarely pick up the phone, much less go out and find a story. Nearly all reporting — I would guess at least 80 percent — is done by newspapers and the wire services. Take that away and we have a huge black hole.

I even read where one guy thinks we should make universities pass along the costs of newspapers to their students so they’re forced to read it. Well, that may be one way to raise money for ailing newspapers, but a piss poor way of pleasing your customers. As an IUPUI student I subsidize The Indianapolis Star, New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and USA today. Too bad I’m never on campus early enough in the day to actually pick up one and read it. Heck, I’m not even on campus most days of the week to pick one up. So that’s a retarded idea.

Some other arguments include moving all newspapers to the Internet. To that, I say, well, maybe you should. You already spend millions on printing the things and my frugal self never pays a dime for newspapers. Heck, I even write for one. I just get it all online. The folks that don’t have net access probably don’t have a newspaper subscription, either.

As usual, I’m here with an idea: shut down all the unprofitable print newspapers and turn it all to the Internet. Keep your reporters and staff and generate revenue via web ads like you already do and cut the frickin’ printer. It’s draining you people ragged.