I’m Not Listening! La-la-la-la!

As the days count down to continuation of season 4 of Battlestar Galactica, I find myself more and more assaulted by series teasers and spoilers. For now the effects are manageable. I’ve been able to avoid watching or reading much despite attempts by my friend Jen Segrest and others to share every little thing they’ve come across about the show. As January approaches however, I fear that even I won’t be able to avoid learning far more than I wanted to know about who the final Cylon might be, what the deal is with that planet they found and which characters might not live to see journey’s end.

I’ve already decided that I won’t be watching the previews for upcoming episodes during the final home stretch, and if you want to enjoy the final 10 episodes to their fullest, I suggest you don’t either. A show like Battlestar Galactica only comes around once in a frakking blue moon and call me old fashion, but I’d rather not know what’s coming. I can already tell we’ll be in for some doozy discussions over at The Sci-Fi Cast this winter, which I’m looking forward to. Just don’t rush me, I’m trying to savor the moment!

Ode To An Outpost

SPOILER WARNING: If you’ve not watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, then you’ll want to beware because there are spoilers ahead (some minor, some major). Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

Ask any Star Trek fan which series is their favorite and they’re likely to tell you Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like the original series, Next Generation was created by Gene Roddenberry and was full of imaginative stories, strong characters and top notch production values. Given all this, it’s no wonder TNG forms the bedrock of the modern Star Trek franchise. But from the futuristic utopia that was Roddenberry’s Next Gen universe, sprung the series I’ve come to regard as my favorite – Deep Space Nine. Considered by many to be the “troubled middle child”, caught between Next Generation and Voyager, Deep Space Nine never received the critical praise or audience numbers it deserved.

Thanks to my friend Corey and his DS9 DVD collection, I’ve been watching Deep Space Nine from season 1 for the better part of a year. Like most TV shows, DS9 started out rocky. Episodes devoted to the “problem of the week” along with actors and directors who were unsure of the character’s motivations led to some wild over-acting and sloppy story lines early on. But unlike Next Generation which peaked in season 4 & 5 and Voyager which was barely exciting for much of its run, Deep Space Nine only got better the longer it ran.

Despite being born in the shadow of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine quickly found its footing and by season 3 all pistons were firing. Producers had introduced the Starship Defiant to take our heroes on missions of exploration and adventure away from the station. A new, deadly enemy called The Dominion, with a dark and complex backstory was introduced that would lay the ground work for some of the best story lines in seasons 6 & 7. Strong relationships formed between major characters like Odo & Kira and Worf & Dax. Writers like Ron Moore of modern Battlestar Galactica fame, pushed studio heads to allow multi-episode story arcs, something that was frowned upon for a weekly series that needed to stand alone in syndication.

Like many fans, I could probably fill a book with all of the aspects of the show that I love. I won’t go into that level of detail but I did want to share some of my favorite parts. In no particular order, here are just some of the things I appreciate whenever I watch Deep Space Nine:

• Sisko, The Emissary – Not only did Deep Space Nine tackle a tough and controversial subject like religion, but it boldly wove it into the fabric of the DS9 universe. Making Sisko not only a heroic Starship Captain, but also a religious icon was a stroke of genious on the creator’s parts. Watching him evolve from a bitter man who lost his wife at the hands of the Borg, to become the most beloved person of the Bjorian faith was both satisfying and unexpected.

• The Ferengi – Hats off to DS9′s writers as well as the actors who played all of the Ferengi. They took two-dimensional characters driven purely by profit and injected serious helpings of loyalty, family and much needed comedy into the Ferengi lore. DS9 did for the Ferengi, what Next Generation did for the Klingons, move them beyond simple charactatures and into the realm of “real people”. I especially love Rom’s devotion to Quark despite his brother’s often less-than-stellar treatment of him. Ferengi episodes were always winners in my book.

• Worf & Dax – Simply put, one of the best reasons to watch the show. Worf had always been a favorite on Next Generation, and with Deep Space Nine, the character was given a chance to grow beyond battles and bat’leths. Their devotion to each other along with their ability to overcome seemingly impossible differences put smiles on fan’s faces. The wedding episode “You Are Cordially Invited” was a series highlight and gave us a peek inside Klingon culture no fan will soon forget. When Dax died at the end of season 6, it left a huge hole, not only in Worf’s heart, but in ours too.

• Vic Fontaine – During the original run of DS9, I positively hated Vic Fontaine episodes. The holographic night club singer, played so cooly by real-life crooner James Darren, often got in the way of stories about the Dominion or the Prophets or something else of fan interest. But as the years have passed, I realized just how great Vic was and how his stories were necessary diversions from the weight of heavier plot lines. The Vic Fontaine episodes “His Way” and “Bada Bing, Bada Bang” are now among my all-time favorites.

• Bashir & O’Brian – Every Trek series nurtures key relationships between characters and Deep Space Nine was no different. The growing bond between Miles O’Brian and Julian Bashir was a delight to watch unfold. It formed the basis of many solid stories and grounded the two characters in a reality that all of us could relate to. On their own, I can’t say I really liked Bashir or O’Brian, but their chemistry together was undeniable.

• In The Pale Moonlight – Without a doubt, my favorite episode of Deep Space Nine, it highlights the incredible acting skills of Avery Brooks and Andrew J. Robinson. The story takes several twists and turns and shows just how committed Captain Sisko is to winning the war with the Dominion. It should have won an Emmy for writing, but like all of Star Trek when it comes to winning important awards, it’s overlooked. Pity that.

• Jeffrey Combs – A skilled character actor, Combs brought flair and depth to any number of characters he played on DS9. My personal favorite had to be the conniving yet obsequious Weyhoun. Comb’s delicious exchanges with Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat were a feast for Trek fans everywhere as was his ability to portray a villain you loved to hate. Combs’ talent was also evident as one of the bright spots in the bottomless pit that was UPN’s Enterprise. His portrayal of the Andorian Captain, Shran, actually kept me tuning in long past the point of no return.

• Morn – Always seen but never heard, the ever-present patron of Quark’s Bar started as bit part but quickly became a fan favorite. Just knowing Morn was sitting at the bar week after week gave fans like myself an in-joke that only other Niners could appreciate, and for that, we loved him to death.

All of these things, and more, made Deep Space Nine one of the best dramas on television for the seven seasons it was on TV. Near the end, the show lost much of its staff to the creative leech that was Star Trek: Voyager. Paramount’s efforts to launch the now defunct UPN network meant less money, less promotion and poor time slots that ultimately forced DS9 to end its run in 1999.

Unfortunately, unlike TNG’s crew or even Voyager’s, Trek fans have never been blessed with an appearance of any DS9 character in a single Trek film or subsequent series. In 1999′s mediocre Star Trek: Insurrection, we learned that the newly returned Janeway had been promoted to Vice Admiral. In 2002′s Star Trek: Nemesis, long time TNG characters Riker and Troi were finally married. Will we ever learn the fate of Captain Sisko or discover what became of Odo, the Great Link and the Dominion? What of Rom’s efforts to bring change to the Ferengi Alliance as Grand Nagus?

In death, as in life, Deep Space Nine remains the black sheep of the Trek family. Someday perhaps Niners will be lucky enough to have Paramount revisit the fates of Captiain Sisko, Colonel Kira, Quark and the rest. In the meantime Deep Space Nine will continue to be this fan’s very favorite Star Trek series and perhaps one of my favorite shows of all time. Thank the Prophets for DVDs.

Enhance Section 324!

Want to know a sure-fire way to get three geeks all hot and bothered faster than warp 9.5? Easy, just ask them what specious scientific principals are abused most often by sci-fi authors! Dave, Jen and I tackle this topic whole-heartedly in Episode 15 of The Sci-Fi Cast and the results are funny indeed. We also review the week’s news including a nerdy discussion of the new Enterprise, the latest rumors about Doctor Who and just why you have to be naked to travel through time. Head on over to The Sci-Fi Cast and check out episode 15 today!

We Have A Winner

Back in July I wrote about a new pocket video recorder that was due out from Kodak, the Zi6 HD camera. Kodak was positioning the device as a “Flip Killer” and people started tweeting and talking about it like crazy. When it was released, a bunch of the people I follow on Twitter bought the Zi6, but for one reason or another were unsatisfied and returned it, including my friend Dan Benjamin. In Dan’s blog post on the Flip vs the Zi6 he stated that the picture quality of the Kodak camera simply wasn’t up to snuff, especially in low light conditions. He also complained about stability and audio recording performance.

This past week Flip came out with a brand new entry in the pocket video space, the Flip Mino HD camera which is their answer to the Zi6. Given Dan and others’ hesitations about the Zi6, it would seem that Flip once again has the upper hand.

Not so fast.

Another friend and blogger, Scott McNulty, has posted an excellent side by side video comparison of the Flip Mino HD and Kodak Zi6 pocket cameras. To my eyes and ears, the results are pretty clear – the Zi6 wins hands down. Even from this short test, the Zi6 performs extremely well in all light conditions, even outdoors at night. The Zi6′s image is clearer, has truer color and increased detail than the Flip’s. The image stabilization of both cameras is about equal. As far as audio goes, some people will indeed like the fact that the Flip’s microphone picks up less ambient noise, but it also results in a muffled track that will most likely need to be amplified when edited. Not good.

When you look at the video comparison of the two cameras, and you factor in the Zi6′s increased screen size, it’s ability to take macro shots and its expandable storage capacity via smart media, I think the Zi6 comes out ahead. In addition, one of the complaints against the Zi6 vs the original Flip was that it was more expensive. With the release of the Mino HD, the Flip is once again the more expensive of the two, even when you factor in the rechargeable lithium ion batteries that users like John Lawson say you’ll need for the Zi6. Personally, if you’re recording in HD I’m not sure why you’d want a camera with inferior picture quality anyway, but then again, that just might be me. Thanks to Scott, I’ve finally made my decision and put the Kodak Zi6 on my Christmas wish list. Ho ho ho!

UPDATE: Andy Ihnatko has done his own comparison and interestingly has reached the exact opposite conclusion. He thinks the Mino’s picture is better. He’s on the preverbal “crack”. The Zi6′s image is much sharper, more defined and has better depth of color than the Flip. He does agree that the Zi6′s audio is better, which now there is no doubt about. So apparently if you like washed out images that need level adjustment and audio to match, the Flip is the camera for you. Personally, I’ll be sticking with the Zi6.

Cavuto & Stein Are Fools

Found this stinging video via Andrew Sullivan and just had to share. GOP and FOX News pundants like to promote the myth that no one could have predicted the current disastrous state of the economy. Well, evidently economist Peter Schiff did, a full 2 years ago. Check out this assortment of clips from his various appearances on FOX News and how the organization treated him and his realistic assessment of the bleak future of our economy. It’s a bit long, so if you want the best bit, start at the 4:00 mark to see Ben Stein & Neil Cavuto totally underestimate the scope and depth of the problem. It’s damning:

FOX, like George W. Bush has a habit of surrounding itself with lackeys and “yes men” and stuff like this is the result. Hopefully the new President-Elect knows there is value in taking off the rose colored glasses and telling the American people how it is. We’re in it deep now and with hard work and sacrifice we’ll find a way out sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, people like Cavuto, Stein & others were part of the problem, not the preventative solution we needed.

2009 Honda Fit Review Is Go!

Back in August I wrote that I had test driven a 2006 Honda Fit and was in a holding pattern for the brand new 2009 model to come to Honda dealers before I made my final purchasing decision. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I took the plunge in early October and I’m pleased to report that it was the right decision. I’ve now been driving my new car for over a month and have a good handle on how the Fit drives, my likes, dislikes and quirks. The review that follows isn’t an exhaustive play by play, but rather what I’ve come to learn that might help other buyers like myself decide if the Fit is right for them. If you’re in the market for a new fuel efficient vehicle and have been thinking about the 2009 Honda Fit, then read on.

The Good

Having been an owner of three previous Honda CRV’s, I was really worried about how much space I would have in the new Fit. I’m not a small guy and I do feel cramped in my wife’s Civic. But one of the first things you notice is that it is surprisingly roomy. It feels like it’s just big enough for me without having the extra size and weight of an SUV. The magic back seats are much better than my old CRV seats and fold down 100% flush with the storage compartment in the back. I can already tell this will come in handy when loading big items into the cargo area.

Honda’s advertisements for the Fit tout its fuel economy and with good reason. My Fit’s gas tank is a full 3 gallons smaller than my CRV’s, but now I’m getting an average of 31.5 mpg as opposed to 21 before. This means I’m getting roughly the same number of miles out of a full tank as I was with the CRV, but for less fuel and less money. Totally wonderful!

The car is super fun to drive. Unlike my CRV, the Fit takes corners tightly, hugs the road like a semi-real sports car and does an admirable job of shifting both up and down. There are many winding roads around where I live and I’ve rediscovered the joy of driving on them thanks to my new Fit. Other nice things include:

• Daytime running lights for safety

• Real time MPG indicator as you drive

• Two glove boxes instead of just one

• Hidden iPod adapter in the upper glove box

• Audio controls on the steering column

• GPS navigation system shows ATMs, restaurants & more

The Not So Good

I’ve never run across a car that was perfect and the 2009 Honda Fit is no exception. There will always be things that, for one reason or another, you wish were different about the vehicle. Thankfully, I don’t consider any of the items below to be deal breakers from a buyer’s perspective. I do think they are things that Honda should look at improving in future revisions.

My single biggest problem with the 2009 Honda fit is the lack of useable dash space. What exactly is useable dash space you ask? It’s those places where you can put loose change, a pen, maybe a receipt the bank teller just handed you, etc. Because the Fit’s dash features sports style gauges, there is no place above the steering column to throw things. My CRV’s gauges were flat and therefore there was a small “shelf” that I often used for just this purpose. What’s worse, the passenger seat pretends to have such a shelf, but it lacks a rubber foot like the CRV did which renders it useless as objects simply slide right off when you turn a corner.

Honda also touts the fact that the interior of the Fit has no less than 10 cup holders, but this isn’t so much of a feature as it is a waste of space. Even seating 5 people, each person would have to have 2 drinks each to make use of all those cup holders. Note to Honda: I’d rather have utility space rather than so many cup holders in the future, thank you very much.

Being an user interface designer, I can’t help but critique the audio and navigation system too. On the surface the hands-free GPS seems great, but after using it for more than a few minutes, you really start to learn how poorly it is designed. Every single time you turn the ignition on, you’re confronted with a disclaimer screen that you must manually dismiss. Every. Single. Time. If you don’t, the system will default to a giant digital clock. Sure, you can get to the audio controls, but you won’t be able to use the GPS portion unless you hit that damned “Okay” button. Bad Honda, bad! Other things that need improving include:

• Honda’s iPod interface doesn’t see “Podcasts”, only playlists

• Turning off auto-door locking isn’t obvious or easy

• Too many hands-free voice commands to remember

• Cloth materials on doors seems to scuff easily

Conclusions

Overall, I love my new car. I managed to lower my car payments significantly while keeping much of the cargo space of my old CRV. The Fit’s gas mileage is great for a non-hybrid vehicle and has cut way down on my fuel costs. The 2009 Fit is fun to drive, has sleek lines and nice styling. While I would love for the interior to make better use of space, and some of the quirks of the audio / navigation system to be ironed out, I none-the-less can recommend the 2009 Honda Fit whole heartedly for anyone looking to buy one.

Sunshine Day

In what may turn out to be one of the best examples of timing in the last quarter century, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have made a major breakthrough in the field of solar energy. The scientists there have invented a coating that not only boosts the amount of light rays able to be absorbed by photovoltaic cells, but that also allows light to be absorbed from almost any angle.

An untreated solar cell only absorbs 67.4 percent of sunlight that strikes it. In terms of efficiency, this wasted energy is one of the major reasons why solar power has not had widespread adoption. Once a silicon panel is treated with the new coating, researchers say the amount of light absorbed is boosted to an incredible 96.21%. Not only that, but the energy captured was consistent across the entire spectrum of sunlight, from UV to visible light and infrared. Because of the wide angle of absorption, the discovery could instantly make panels that automatically track the sun obsolete. Non-automated panels mean less expense, more energy is harvested and solar power becomes more viable.

The best bit is that this discovery comes just as a new administration is about to take office. One of Obama’s initiates as President will be to boost production of renewable energy sources including solar power. Rensselaer’s coating most likely would have fallen on deaf ears during Bush’s tenure at the White House, but now this new discovery could be a key component on road to U.S. energy independence. I love it when a plan comes together!

Election Prediction Results

Back on October 23rd, I offered up several election predictions. Now that the most important election in recent memory is one for the books (almost), I thought I should go back and take score on how I did. When it came to predicting the election no one beat Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, but all in all I think I held my own. Be sure to check the tally at the end of the post for the final results.



Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States
This was the easiest prediction I’ve ever made. There has been little doubt in my mind since Obama locked up the nomination that he would be our next President. You can say McCain threw the Presidency away with his poor choices, but even if he hadn’t, I submit to you that the need for change was too great. Obama would have won anyway and with good cause. With his win it’s once again “cool” to be an American, and that is something many of us have not felt in a long, long time.



Obama wins at least 320 electoral votes
As of this writing, Obama has a total of 364 electoral votes to John McCain’s 163. The only state left outstanding is Missouri. Just to put these numbers in perspective, Bush won 286 electoral votes against Kerry in 2004 and only 271 against Gore in 2000.



Obama wins NC, CO, OH, IN and MS
As they say, three out of four isn’t bad. I feel particularly vindicated about North Carolina and Indiana. I thought I would go against the conventional wisdom and call Missouri for Obama, but that was just wishful thinking. On the other hand, I’ve been calling North Carolina for Obama for almost a year, and even though it was close, Obama managed to pull it out in the end. Go blue NC!



Obama wins popular vote by at least 3%.
Obama blew this one out of the water. Barack Obama won the popular vote in 2008 52.6% to John McCain’s 46.1%, a difference of a full 6.5%. The total turnout for this election was 126.5-128.5 million voters (count not final yet).



John McCain wins Florida, Georgia and Virginia
Looks like I gave John McCain way too much credit here. Obama won Florida 50.9% to McCain’s 48.4% and amazingly Obama even took Virginia by a commanding lead of over 200,000 votes. This was the first time in 44 years that Virginia voted Democratic in the Presidential election. Wow.



John McCain eeks out win in West Virginia.
I think I called this one pretty much dead on. McCain won the state but only by a margin of a little less than 90,000 votes. Early in the evening, it looked like Obama might pull WV out, but the final results went for McCain.



Liddy Dole barely defends her NC Senate seat.
I’ve never been happier to be so wrong. Hagan gave Dole a pasting in North Carolina and it showed early. I will say that I made my Dole over Hagan prediction a few days before Dole started running her “Godless” ad here in the state. The backlash from that poor decision was swift and decisive. Within a few days of the commercial running, Hagan was up 7 points over the incumbent Republican who only spent some 35 days in NC in 2005.



Pat McCrory defeats Beverly Perdue.
Ask anyone in the days before the election who you thought would be the next govenor of North Carolina and I’m willing to bet they would have answered Pat McCrory. From Brad & Britt to Ed Cone, I think it’s fair to say we all thought that McCrory had a lock. The fact that Perdue managed to pull it out I think is a function of straight-party ticket votes in NC. In North Carolina, here is the breakdown of straight-party voting: Democratic 58.86% with 1,264,076 and Republicans 40.27% 864,907. Thanks in part to Barack Obama, this was a good year to be a Democrat to be on the ballot, no ifs ands or buts.



Al Franken defeats Norm Coleman in MN.
They are still counting votes in Minnesota and Coleman’s lead is dwindling fast. State law dictates a manual recount so we won’t know the real outcome until sometime in late November or mid-December at the earliest. Unsurprisingly Norm Coleman is urging Al Franken to concede and not bother with the recount. Yeah, right. He doesn’t know Al very well does he?



Senator Ted Stevens loses in Alaska. Badly.
Remarkably, Ted Stevens managed to actually hold on and seemingly beat Begich in a tight race. I say seemingly because as of this writing, there are over 40,000 provisional and absentee ballots that have yet to be counted and Stevens may very well lose the race. No matter what happens however, my thoughts of Stevens getting his can kicked were way off. Alaskans are an unpredictable bunch, that’s for sure. And then there’s that pesky matter of Stevens being a convicted felon. Bummer dude!



Democrats pick up at least 4 Senate seats.
Correct and then some. As of this writing, Democrats have picked up a total of 6 Senate seats. Those pick ups are: Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia. At least 2 more Democratic pick ups are possible once the counting is done: Minnesota and Alaska. Democrats won’t reach their fabled filibuster-proof 60 seats, but they’ll be darned close.



Democrats pick up 32 House seats.
Way off on this one, I admit it. As of this writing the Democrats picked up a total of 20 House seats with 6 seats still undecided. That being said, the Dems padded their control of the House far more than the GOP would have liked.



Republican Michele Bachmann of MN is defeated.
Perhaps the most disappointing and surprising result of the 2008 election. Somehow anti-Obama and anti-american Michele Bachmann managed to hold onto her House seat in Minnesota’s 6th district. If anyone in this cycle deserved to be stripped of her seat, it was Michelle Bachmann. In a disgusting display to plead favor with the nation after Obama had won, she went to the media and basically said she was proud and “extremely grateful” Obama was the victor. Voters will be watching this anti-American McCarthy clone like a hawk in the months ahead.



Sarah Palin is a deciding factor in McCain loss.
This one is debatable, but I’m going to call it in my favor. Republican’s were hoping for two so-called “effects” on election day – the Bradley Effect and the Palin Effect. Neither one of them materialized. In fact, there was evidence that Sarah Palin hurt McCain badly in the voting booth. Women were unimpressed with her, and even many GOP voters decided against McCain on the sole basis of her being on the ticket. She was a pathetic pick from the get-go who only fired up the ultra-right wing of the base. When the story of this election is written, I’m confident that Palin will be one of the biggest chapters why McCain failed.



National election turnout ends up around 66%.
My initial guess was going to be in the 70% range, but I brought it down to be a bit more realistic. Even that wasn’t enough however as the voter turnout for the 2008 elections ended up being only 62.6%. Feh.



Total right – 6
Total wrong – 6
Total undecided – 3

I may end up ahead in the end, but it’s clear that Nate Silver shouldn’t come anywhere near me. Ed Glosser I am not. :-)

Is It January 20th, 2009 Yet?

Word today from the Washington Post that the new President-elect has had a team of advisors scouring the record for actions and executive orders that Obama could act quickly to undo once he’s sworn in:

“Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse the president on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.”

Something tells me Barack Obama is going to be an effective leader. I’ll be keeping tabs on him in the weeks, months and years ahead, but this bit of news is encouraging. Bush’s war on science, civil liberties and the environment all need to be met head on and reversed where ever possible. It appears Obama is taking his first steps to undo the gigantic mess George W. Bush plunged this country into. As far as I’m concerned, the inauguration can’t come soon enough.

One-Way Tweet

When it comes to Twitter, I like to think that I fly by the seat of my pants. I don’t have hard and fast rules like some people do for using the popular micro-blogging service. Robert Scoble has poked fun at such rules like “Don’t follow them unless they follow you”, “Never Tweet more than five times a day” and “Never follow anyone who isn’t your real friend”. But after many months of following several so-called “celebrities” on Twitter, I’m rapidly forming a rule regarding the rich and famous. Don’t follow them unless they are willing to reply to you.

I tried following one of my all-time favorite celebrities on Twitter for several months. Wil Wheaton starred in TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and movies like Stand By Me. He’s become something of an icon on the internet as a well-known blogger, professional poker player and writer. I figured it would be cool to know what Wil was up to at any given moment and so I went to his Twitter page and pressed the follow button. Getting his tweets was fun for a while, but from time to time I’d send him @replies regarding things he was tweeting and he would never reply. I complimented him, I asked a couple questions but still nothing. He made me feel like a geek at a Trek convention kindly asking for his autograph all the while refusing to even acknowledge me. Finally I had enough and decided to un-follow him, and I’ve never looked back.

Now the same thing is happening with John Hodgman. John is a talented writer who everyone knows from the “Get a Mac” TV commercials. I’ve read two of Hodgman’s books because his humor and sensibilities appeal to me. I’ve tweeted him 3 times but have not received a single reply. Yet another epic fail.

I realize that neither Wheaton or Hodgman are obliged to respond to fans like myself. They are busy individuals who probably get dozens of tweets and emails every day. But they have decided to become part of the Twitter community and I think showing your followers some love every now and then is just common courtesy. I’m not asking to form a deep relationship with you Wil. I just wanted to express my congratulations on nailing that Terminator audition for Pete’s sake! Would it kill you to reply “Hey, thanks man”?

Thankfully not all celebrities on Twitter are so aloof. Head to Greg Grunberg’s (of NBC’s Heroes) Twitter page and you’ll note a whole lot of @reply messages going out to his fans. I’d like to think this is because Greg has the good sense to use an awesome tool like Twitterrific to read and post tweets. Twitterrific highlights @replies and direct messages so you can easily see them in your timeline. For all of John Hodgman’s internet savviness, sadly he still does most of his tweeting directly from the web and probably doesn’t bother to pay attention to @replies. Maybe the Iconfactory needs to write that PC version of Twitterrific after all. Get it? A PC VERSION!

Before the internet, people had to put pen to paper to write fan mail to those they admired. Many celebrities would respond with autographs, 8×10 glossies or maybe even a personal note. Twitter has done away with all that tedious fan mail business, but even though it only takes seconds to reply to a tweet, many superstars refuse to even try. So the next time you send us 140 character pitches for your new book or alert us about your upcoming TV appearances, try and remember the most important rule of all. No matter how much money you make or how famous you are, treat others as you would have them treat you. Try talking to us instead of at us. A little love goes a long way.

UPDATE: Anyone in the comment thread that thinks celebrities are too busy or too important to respond to fans should go read this. Not only is that assumption patently false it’s insulting. Some celebrities actually care about their fans. Others do not. Shaquille O’Neal, I’m pleased to report, is in the former category. The positive press and fan devotion generated from what happened in this story are perfect examples of why @replies matter.