If you're getting ready for a holiday meal meal with family, you might be planning anything from going to a Chinese restaurant to an elaborate home-cooked turkey. Whatever the case may be, there are more than a few holiday traditions out there. Check out a few of these delicious dishes.
We've mentioned before how Santa is not quite believable, even though there are various explanations trying to defend his existence. If you have young children, you might be debating when to reveal the truth behind Santa. Maybe it doesn't really matter. Here are just a few links related to parenting kids, and maybe your kids will find out about Santa on their own someday.
This being a site focused in part on emerging business models, we tend to see a wide variety of new and innovative attempts to monetize artistic talents. There can be many specific expressions when it comes to these new models, but we like to think that the best of them fall under the more general concept of connecting with fans and giving them a reason to buy. That's what makes one game developer's strategy for success so completely original: he's connecting with his fans and telling them not to buy. And should you think I'm somehow exaggerating or misinterpreting what the creator of the game Frontiers actually said, here's some text from the post he put on the Steam community site, entitled: PSA: Do NOT buy this game as Christmas gift.
Hello, everyone - Lars here with a friendly developer PSA. A lot of folks have told me: I'm buying this game for my kid/friend/spouse for Christmas, they love exploration games! And I say the same thing every time: DON'T!*
Now, I already know what you're thinking: holy crap, those idiots on cable news who said that there's a war on Christmas were right! No, no, dear readers. Lars isn't some anti-Christmas Scrooge, he's just concerned that people will give the beta version of the game as a gift to unsuspecting loved ones who won't understand that it isn't complete and that this will somehow undo the universe.
The only people who will love it are players who seek it out for themselves, because it's NOT FINISHED. Your kid/friend/spouse will just be annoyed with you. I'm proud of this game, and with everyone's help I believe it's going to be great - but it's not great yet, so in the meantime get your kid/friend/spouse Dragon Age or The Binding of Isaac or something, trust me. The December release date unavoidably puts Christmas gift in people's minds. That's why I'm only releasing a trickle of press copies till after the new year. People are prone to impulse buy right now, and you don't want people impulse buying an Early Access game, especially not for others.
I mean, look, it sounds like Lars is doing everyone a favor here, but this is all equal parts insulting and business-dumb. I'd wager that most gamers that are diving into Steam's Early Access beta games probably have a firm understanding that these games are unfinished and quite possibly buggy. That was certainly the case when I got in early on Starbound, for instance. But that didn't stop me from gifting the game to my brother, because I'm a thinking human person who can determine for whom gifting the game would be appropriate. I certainly didn't need the game developer to tell me to simply not buy the game for anyone for Christmas.
Which brings us to a general maxim for anyone selling anything: blanket requests that your product not be bought probably aren't the best of ideas. Just a little Christmas pro-tip from me to you.
The holidays are almost here, so for this week's awesome stuff, we're looking at some innovative or just plain unconventional Christmas crowdfunding campaigns.
AURA: Wireless Christmas Lights
Wireless power could change the word, but it's still nowhere near that point — so for now, you'll have to settle for it changing your Christmas tree. The AURA system consists of a transmitter ring that hides near the base of the tree, and a set of wirelessly-powered LED baubles to hang on the rest of it. In a cool design choice, the ornaments showcase their internal circuitry rather than hiding it away. And, of course, the whole thing is controllable via smartphone.
The Krampus Beer Stein
Krampus — the Germanic folk monster that traditionally accompanies St. Nick, doling out punishment where gifts are undeserved — has been undergoing something of a cultural renaissance online, with a new generation latching on to the dark side of Christmas mythology. The Krampus Beer Stein is just one of several Krampus items I've seen around this season, but it's one of the coolest, featuring detailed original artwork by legendary illustrator Mitch O'Connell.
Minimal Nativity Scene
While the rebirth of the Krampus is a new trend in Christmas decor, the nativity scene is one of the oldest. This minimalist take on the classic might appear to be some sort of snide religious critique (and might raise more money from the online community if it were), but in fact it's a design experiment inspired by the artist's lifelong fascination with popular depictions of Biblical figures in ornaments and consumer products. Why, she wondered, is Mary's dress always blue? Why is the baby Jesus always blonde? Why do the staple design choices change from country to country? Who makes these decisions, and how? Her response: an ultra-simplified nativity scene consisting of ten labelled blocks of beech wood.
The past couple of years, we've had a special Holiday Bundle over at the Insider Shop, but this year we're trying something a bit different: 10% off everything storewide, with the coupon code HOLIDAY2014.
(Okay, not quite everything: the discount doesn't apply to monthly subscription products. But it does apply to the yearlong subscription specials for Watercooler and Behind The Curtain memberships, as well as the non-recurring one-year Crystal Ball subscription. And remember, all these items can be applied to your own Techdirt account or gifted to someone else.)
We know we're a little bit late getting this out there, but there's still time to order Techdirt gear for Christmas! Domestically, for USPS Standard Shipping, orders made by December 15th (that's next Monday) should arrive in time, and there may be express options available depending on your location. For more detailed information, consult this shipping calendar, and try to order soon just to be safe!
That Anonymous Cowardpoints us to what may be the most pitch perfect satire of the NSA's activities, in a write-up about how the NSA intercepted children's letters to Santa, over at the Duffel Blog. The concept is obvious from the title, but it's the attention to detail, matching almost point for point the kinds of things that have been revealed that the NSA actually does, that make the satire so perfect.
The documents describe an operation known as MILK COOKIES, based out of Fort Meade and run in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service. COOKIES is the interception of the letters while MILK feeds them through a complex series of algorithms to spot any hidden messages.
Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander had previously testified to Congress in 2011 that the NSA would occasionally collect letters addressed to Santa, but insisted that it was totally accidental and that no one was actually reading or storing them.
The NSA is prohibited from directly monitoring American citizens under both Executive Order 12333 and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. However, because the letters are addressed to the North Pole, which falls outside of U.S. territory, they are considered potential foreign intelligence signals which the NSA is authorized to intercept.
The article includes the history of the program, discusses the ELFCHELON data center in the North Pole, and even discusses how the NSA has "routinely hacked Santa’s Naughty and Nice List for any information on world leaders." As we head into a little break, this seems like an appropriate post to go out on...
With the holiday season upon us, we figured it was time to offer some special deals over at our Insider Shop — just in case you've got someone on your list this year who would appreciate some Techdirt gear or a subscription package (or if you feel like giving yourself a gift this season). So today we're unveiling two limited-time offerings. First up, the Holiday Bundle:
For only $99 (over $50 off the regular price), the Holiday Bundle includes:
This package will only be around for a limited time, and some sizes are already selling out, so if you want one, don't wait too long to order! We're also happy to announce a special deal on multiple t-shirts, for those who want a complete set or need a few to give out as gifts:
If you're ordering t-shirts, the bundle or any other gear as a gift, please order soon to ensure shipping in time for the holidays! We've spoken to our fulfillment partner and determined that orders placed by December 14th (in the US) and December 9th (internationally) should arrive on time with all shipping options, and depending on your location there may be express shipping available, too—but ordering early is always safer!
Aaron DeOliveira points us to an amusing Christmas to New Year's week diversion in the story of the song, WTF?! I Wanted An iPhone!!! (warning, potentially NSFW, if your work place doesn't like people singing curses). Beyond being entertaining and amusing, the story behind it is a cool case study in how creativity comes from all sorts of strange sources online. The story begins with comedy writer Jon Hendren, being bored on Christmas Eve & Christmas, and playing around with Twitter search, doing searches on terms seeking particularly entitled and angry tweets from kids who didn't get "what they wanted" on Christmas -- with "what they wanted" being defined as an iPhone, an iPad or a car. Hendren then started retweeting the ones he found:
That, itself, started to go viral, at which point singer Jonathan Mann, who's made quite a name for himself writing, recording and releasing a song a day ever since January 1 of 2009, picked up on the story and wrote the song linked above (his 1089th song, if you were wondering). The song basically takes some of the "best" of the entitled tweets and produces a fun little ditty (again, potentially NSFW):
Now, this whole thing is silly (or, potentially, a bit sickening when you look at how entitled some of those kids feel), but it really does demonstrate a few different concepts, all wrapped up in one nice holiday package:
Creativity comes from all sorts of strange sources
Online, collaboration can happen without people even realizing it (and that's cool)
The ability to create, promote and distribute content just keeps getting easier and easier
With the holidays approaching, there are lots of recipes and cooking ideas floating around online. But it's way more interesting to us to read up on weird foods that are out there (not turduckens). We're making a list. We're not checking it twice. Most of these foods are not nice at all, and some are just gross. Bon appetit!
from the it-ain't-a-purchase-if-you-don't-own-it dept
Lots of folks have sent in various versions of Amazon's hyped up press release about how it sold more ebooks on Christmas than physical books. While this ought to make some publishers reconsider their hatred of ebooks, there are two points that make this rather meaningless. First, how many physical books are usually sold on Amazon on Christmas day? My guess is not very many. Books are purchased before Christmas day. However, I'm sure plenty of people did get new Kindles on Christmas, and quite a few then went and "purchased" an ebook or two to test it out.
But, again, since this is the Kindle we're talking about, shouldn't Amazon make the distinction between purchased and rented? When someone buys a physical book from Amazon, they then own that book and can do pretty much what they want with it, including reselling it or giving it away. When they "purchase" an ebook from Amazon, that's not the case at all. They're quite limited in what they can do with it. They can't resell it. They can't share it with a friend (unless they give up their entire Kindle and all the books on it). And, of course, Amazon can make the ebook disappear at will -- though, it insists it will never do this again. Even though it can. So, congrats to Amazon, for renting more books on a day when such rentals are to be expected and when physical book sales are probably at their very lowest.