Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fairfax County, Va.: The land of dead-end sidewalks

Recently I wrote about some of the quirky architecture in Fairfax County, Va. Today I want to discuss another quirky aspect of the county where I now live. I call the area where I live: the land of dead-end sidewalks.
That’s because many public sidewalks – particularly around Reston, Vienna and Great Falls – come to a stop at traffic barricades. It’s as if the government ran out of money to continue building the sidewalk. Either that or they didn’t get the public access rights to the property or were poor at planning.
Anyway, it’s annoying for people like me who like to go on long walks or bicycle rides. The lack of completed sidewalks forces us to travel on roads or shoulders to continue our journey, which isn’t very safe.
And don’t get me started about all the one-lane bridges around here. Those throwbacks to old-time country living are maddening.

Photos: Dead-end sidewalks in Vienna and Reston, Va.



Saturday, July 23, 2016

Remembering Garry Marshall

Garry Marshall, a beloved writer, director, producer and actor in movies and TV shows, died on July 19 at age 81.
Most people will remember him as the man who made hit movies like “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries” and TV shows like “The Odd Couple” and Happy Days.”
I’ll remember him as a devoted supporter of his alma mater, Northwestern University. Marshall, like me, studied journalism at Northwestern.
I had the privilege of spending some time with Marshall while I was in graduate school at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in the fall of 1992.
My class was working on a prototype magazine about comedy and sought his counsel.
I wrote to his production company in Los Angeles and asked for some of his time to chat. His staff first wanted to make sure I wasn’t some wannabe screenwriter looking for an in.
His scheduler asked me, “How do I know you’re not going to try to pitch him a script?”
Not only did he agree to chat, he made a visit to the Evanston, Ill., campus to meet the students. I served as his driver during his campus visit that day.
He liked our idea for a comedy magazine.
“I think everybody’s interested in comedy now; just look at all the stand-up and improv clubs,” Marshall told me. “I think people would like to read about comedy because everyone secretly wishes they were funny.”
Nothing came of the comedy magazine experiment, but it was a great experience.
I will remember Marshall as a sweet, wise, funny man who loved people.
He will be missed.

Related reading:

How Garry Marshall found his comedy (Chicago Tribune; July 20, 2016)

Prolific Hollywood director Garry Marshall who was behind such hit movies as Pretty Woman and Princess Diaries as well as TV’s Happy Days dies at age 81 (The Daily Mail; July 19, 2016)

Garry Marshall IMDb page

Gary Marshall page on Wikipedia

Photo: Filmmaker Garry Marshall (top); Marshall with actress Jennifer Garner on the set of “Valentine’s Day” (2010).


Monday, July 18, 2016

Hey, Yahoo, fix your glitchy websites

In recent years, Yahoo has chased shiny new opportunities like online content creation and mobile apps and taken its eye off its main services.
Once great services like Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Finance were left to stagnate.
Yahoo Mail has become slow and error prone. Yahoo’s recent tweaks to its email service haven’t improved it much. It trails Google’s Gmail in functionality and responsiveness.
Last week, Yahoo overhauled its Yahoo Finance website and the results were loudly criticized online by longtime users. It’s been called “the New Coke of the Internet.”
I’ve lost confidence in Yahoo to remain a web service I can count on for the long haul. I’m getting flashbacks to GeoCities.
I’ve documented the many error messages I get when using Yahoo services. They happen pretty frequently. I’ll include a few more with this post.

Earlier posts on the subject:

Yahoo needs to get its act together and fix its core services (May 14, 2016)

Note to Yahoo: Keep your eye on the ball (Nov. 22, 2015)

Yahoo fails continue (Feb. 17, 2015)

Photos: Standard Yahoo error note (top), Yahoo Mail website not secure, Yahoo Mail fails to load, Yahoo banner ad fails, and error note about inability to add content to My Yahoo.





Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yahoo Finance redesign getting terrible reviews, called ‘New Coke of the Internet’

Final bids for Yahoo’s core businesses reportedly are due Monday. Verizon and AT&T are among those in the running. But whoever buys Yahoo needs to keep what’s working and fix what’s broken in the web portal’s core operations.
That includes Yahoo Finance.
Last week Yahoo Finance overhauled the site and the results aren’t pretty. A Yahoo article touting the changes has garnered more than 1,000 comments, almost all negative. (The few positive comments are likely by trolls trying to elicit angry responses.)
Yahoo Finance has been a workhorse for investors and others who closely follow publicly traded companies. The changes have many longtime users talking about switching to other websites.
Changes to the Yahoo Finance ticker pages have made the service practically unusable for me. Now, instead of a neat list of up-to-the-minute company-related articles under a stock data table, we’re presented with an airy page of random articles interspersed with cheap-looking sponsored content.
What used to be an easy-to-scan summary of news articles about a company has become a hard-to-navigate mess of content.
What’s worse, when you click on an article now, it takes you to a summary page for that article. If you want to see the full article, you have to click a second button.
Obviously Yahoo is trying to drive page views at the expense of usability and customer satisfaction. It’s as if Yahoo wants to drive me to MarketWatch or some other financial news website.
I sense that Yahoo is making these changes for financial and cosmetic reasons, not to improve the service.
For now, at least, Yahoo hasn’t messed with its Yahoo Finance portfolio pages. Fingers crossed.

Here are some sample comments from users about the new Yahoo Finance:
“You have succeeded in making the site nearly unusable. I gather that you never bothered to ask your users how they were using the site. This isn’t an improvement, it is a disaster.” – John Bollinger, CFA, CMT

“I’ve used Yahoo Finance since 1996; the year I learned to use the internet and have never used any other site … this is a complete joke and it’s a sad day as I have made my decision to leave Yahoo after 20 years of what I thought was a very successful relationship.” – AR

“I’ve used Yahoo Finance since 1998. Hands down, it has been the best, for almost 2 decades … This latest change however, this ‘new format’ as you call it, is completely unusable.” – WaveR

“I dislike everything about this new finance site that fills up my entire screen with information of no value for me ... Thanks for screwing up a terrific finance site.” – Richard

“This will be relegated as an example in the Introduction to Marketing class as the NEW COKE of the Internet.” – God

“This will not do. People using finance tools need instant results … The linear setup Yahoo Finance had was great. The present site is a clustered mess. The home page is a bloated cow.” – Dan

“Please give us the choice of which format to use. I much prefer the older format. I have already looked elsewhere for financial info due to the cumbersome nature of the new format.” – A Yahoo reader

“I have been a Yahoo Finance user for decades and cannot begin to express my extreme disappointment in your recent makeover of this site. The financial information from the discarded site was simple to access and easily navigated. The ‘improved’ Yahoo Finance is a joke … Please listen to us, your loyal users for decades, and scrap this new finance page and bring back what was the absolute, hands down best finance site on the internet. I cannot and will not use your new, ‘improved’ finance page and will look for another source of financial information.” – Glatt

“I have switched to MarketWatch. I did not switch because I love MarketWatch, I don’t, but Yahoo Finance has totally abandoned those of us who appreciated a concise website for company stock prices, financial and historical information, and relevant news. I have been with Yahoo Finance for over two decades, and this feels like a break up with a good friend who wanted to hook up with some pretty face, but no brains. Maybe next time the ‘engineers’ will actually talk to real users, instead of other engineers who say ‘Hey bro, that looks cool.’” – SS

“New and improved, are you kidding us all. It may look more ‘jazzy’ and ‘trending’ but not much emphasis was put into what the users want.” – David

“THIS IS A TOTAL FAILURE, everybody is looking for a different site. Whoever was in charge of this is clueless about what the stock market is. This site is used by adults, not silly kids. I hope soon you have no users at all.” – The Verdugos

“After 25+ years of using Yahoo to EASILY get access to and download data, I'll have to try one or more other places to replace what has been lost by the changes you have introduced.” – Charlie

“What an incredibly misguided move. There is nothing positive that I can say about your new/improved setup. For years, Yahoo Finance has been an excellent resource. Whoever designed this schmozzle needs to be shown the door at the same time as the site is returned to its former, usable self.” – Brian

“Yahoo Finance was the only last part of Yahoo that was any good. Now that is gone! I will go somewhere else for my financial data.” – Meohmy 
There are many more similar comments.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chinese building tries to take the toilet title from Virginia building

A new building in Zhengzhou, China, is taking social media by storm because of its resemblance to a toilet.
The not-yet-open building will house the Students’ Employment Center at the North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power, according to media reports.
China is known for its weird architecture. (See Daily Mail article titled, “‘It’s a giant toilet’: Chinese school ridiculed by web users after unveiling new building.”)
But the Zhengzhou building isn’t the first one to look like a loo.
In Fairfax County, Virginia, there’s a building affectionately known as the “Toilet Bowl Building.” The giant ring on the front of the building looks like a raised toilet seat. How rude!
The building at 2070 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Va., is a Tysons Corner landmark. Its official name is the Tycon Courthouse.
There are other odd-looking buildings in Fairfax County. They include the Tycon Tower, or “The Shopping Bag” building, at Tysons Corner Mall and the CIT building in Herndon, Va., which is said to look like a popcorn box or upside-down pyramid.

Photos: The “Toilet Bowl Building” in McLean, Va. (top), and the toilet-shaped building in Zhengzhou, China.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The sexiest LFL players of 2016, U.S. league

The Legends Football League is chock full of attractive, athletic women, so picking the hottest ladies in the LFL is difficult.
I set out to list the top 10 sexiest LFL players in the U.S. league, but had a hard time even narrowing my list to the top 14. That’s so many lovely ladies that I’ll have to split this article into two posts.
To get my list down to a manageable level, I had to eliminate girl-next-door pretty players and go just for goddesses who ooze sex appeal. Also, I focused on those with a strong social media presence that provided ample proof of their beauty and sensuality.
It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.
So without further ado, here’s the Tech-media-tainment list of the 14 sexiest U.S. LFL players of 2016 (in alphabetical order).

Naja Christmas

Naja Christmas, 26, is an offensive and defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Temptation. She is an L.A.-based trainer and rehab specialist.

LFL player profile

Instagram page



Deena Fagiano

Deena Fagiano, 26, is an offensive lineman and linebacker for the Chicago Bliss. She is also a cast member of the Oxygen network show “Pretty. Strong.” The reality TV show “follows the fierce and fit women of the Legends Football League’s Chicago Bliss” on and off the field. She also is a former competitive cheerleader.

LFL player profile

Facebook page

Instagram page



Lauren Fogle

Lauren Fogle, 29, is a defensive back for the Omaha Heart. She is also a model, cosplay artist and rocker. (See photo at top of article and below.)

LFL player profile

Facebook page




Lyndsey Gaffney

Lyndsey Gaffney, 24, is a wide receiver and safety for the Dallas Desire.

LFL player profile

Facebook page



Monique Gaxiola

Monique Gaxiola, 29, is a linebacker for the Los Angeles Temptation. She’s also a former CrossFit coach.

LFL player profile

Facebook page

Facebook fan page

Instagram page



Kenia McKeon

Kenia McKeon, 25, is a wide receiver and defensive back for the New England Liberty. She is also WBFF bikini competitor.

LFL player profile

Facebook fan page



Christine Moore

Christine Moore, 30, is a tight end and linebacker for the Seattle Mist.

LFL player profile

Facebook page



Continued in part 2.


The sexiest LFL players of 2016, part 2

Tech-media-tainment has selected the 14 sexiest players of the 2016 U.S. Legends Football League.
This is part two of that list, presented in alphabetical order. (See part one here.)

Chasity Morales

Chasity Morales, 24, is a wide receiver and safety for the Austin Acoustic. She’s also an international swimsuit model.

LFL player profile

Facebook page for LFL

Facebook page




Shea Norton

Shea Norton, 29, is a tight end and defensive end with the Seattle Mist.

LFL player profile

Facebook LFL page

Facebook page

Twitter page



Adrian Purnell

Adrian Purnell, 28, is a tight end and strong safety for the Atlanta Steam.

LFL player profile

Facebook page



Cynthia Schmidt

Cynthia Schmidt, 29, is a wide receiver for the Los Angeles Temptation. She’s also a model.

LFL player profile

Instagram page

Facebook page

Twitter page



Kiana Takairangi

Kiana Takairangi, 23, is a wide receiver with the Los Angeles Temptation.

LFL player profile

Facebook page

Instagram page




Chantell Taylor

Chantell Taylor, 26, is an offensive and defensive lineman for the Chicago Bliss. She is also a cast member on the LFL reality TV show “Pretty. Strong.”

LFL player profile

“Pretty. Strong.” biography

Twitter page



Emma-Lee Thomas

Emma-Lee Thomas, 29, is a tight end and defensive end for the Austin Acoustic. The Australia native also has played for the Queensland Brigade of LFL Oceania. (See photo at top of article and below.)

LFL player profile

Twitter page

Facebook page



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