News & Politics

NetNomad 22

This week from the NetNomad: Find a Grave ... Watching the Corn Grow ... Black Coffee -- The Language of the Human Body ... Princeton Video Image ... Box Office Mojo.
Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com)

This site is not nearly as morbid as it might sound. In fact it consists of two huge databases, listing of the location of "famous" and not-so-famous gravesites. In time the two databases will be amalgamated, but at the moment there are 10,000 famous names in the one database and a reported 2.5 million burial records in the latter. The personal index is a great research tool for anyone tracing their roots, but the famous one captured our attention. It is difficult to say why it is so interesting to know where the gravesites of Humphrey Bogart (Glendale, CA), Thomas Wolfe (Asheville, NC) or even Morris The Cat (Chicago IL) are located, but we found it quite fascinating.

Watching the Corn Grow (www.iowafarmer.com/corncam/corn.html)

This site might sound like it's about as much fun as, well, watching corn grow, but perhaps there is something to be said for rediscovering the heartland, even if we only do it virtually. This Iowa Farmer Today web camera is trained on a cornfield north of Prairieburg, in Northeast Iowa. The pictures, updated every 15 minutes, allow us to actually witness the progress of the corn throughout its growing season. Iowa Farmer Today publisher Steve DeWitt wonders aloud if they are not "the first company to photograph the growth cycle of corn on the Internet." We have no doubt that they are the first, and it really is a wonderful idea.

Black Coffee -- The Language of the Human Body (www.oester.ch)

It is always remarkable when you discover that someone has taken an art-form and pretty much reinvented it. Such is the case with the line drawings found at Black Coffee. The artist uses little more than lines to create a wonderful series of black and white drawings that really do manage to capture "the language of the human body." Guests to the site have called the drawings soothing as well as "invigorating and relaxing at the same time." We leave having learned a great deal about the human form, but very little about the artist. Visiting the About Me page presents a simple message: "I'm not that important." We beg to differ.

Princeton Video Image (www.pvi-inc.com)

You may have heard of the latest advertising "breakthrough" called Virtual Signs. Companies, such as Princeton Video Image, will create an advertisement for a big sporting event telecast. Nothing new in that. But in this case the ads are not actually located at the scene of the event. As an example PVI boasts that they "provided a Virtual Sign for Northern Light at the world's most famous auto race, the Indy 500." The sign exists, but only on a computer screen. " But there it was, lap after lap, looking like it was really located on the infield. "Remember," they proudly declare, "that sign wasn't really at the speedway!" Perhaps it is silly to be so concerned about a fake ad on a TV show, but on the other hand how do you feel about "Virtual Product Placement?"

Box Office Mojo (www.boxofficemojo.com)

Brandon Gray's site offers movie news with a difference. You'll find quite succinct and well-written commentaries on the latest film releases, along with Box Office results for the week and weekend and a release schedule. But Gray is not content to simply comment on the features. He offers forecasts on the box office results. During the week we visited we learned that Martin Lawrence's latest Big Momma's House took in a healthy box office despite taking just four months to film, edit, test market, etc, while "John Travolta's $73 million pet project Battlefield Earth" seems on its way to a final tally of a little over $21 million. Mr. Gray informs us that the film is doing even worse overseas, earning just $1.1 million from seven European markets.