Marco Arment has a surprisingly impartial post detailing each major tech company’s bulls**t marketing. His point is that every company exaggerates, clouds the truth, or overly hypes their own products. The user decides what marketing babble is the most tolerable, but it’s impossible to avoid it entirely.

Blast From the Past Project

Copenhagen marketing firm Advance has worked with LEGO for decades, and they’ve begun posting some of their best vintage television commercials online. Head over to YouTube to see the intro trailer, and check their channel or The Brothers Brick each week for some new uploads. My personal favorites so far are the Spyrius and Technic Racers spots, and if I’m not careful, I’m going to start buying these old sets based on how great the ads are.

New Lord of the Rings Theme


The LEGO Group has scored a fantastic new license for the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit characters, which I’ve thought they should do ever since the original movies debuted years ago. Needless to say, this promises to be every bit as successful as Harry Potter and possibly even Star Wars. Even though I’m not much of a castle builder, I can’t wait to pick up an Orthanc, Minas Tirith, or Bag End set. I haven’t looked forward to a new theme this much since Alien Conquest, and 2012 looks to be the best year yet for LEGO. There’s a teaser page here, and the full press release at the link below.

– Via The Brothers Brick

Official Minecraft LEGO Sets


After only two days on LEGO’s crowd-sourcing website CUUSOOMinecraft developer Mojang has successfully accumulated the necessary 10,000 supporters to begin creating an official set.

LEGO has released a rather stunned press release, promising to move quickly to review possible set ideas, decide whether Minecraft is a good fit for the LEGO brand, and whether or not to go ahead with a final product. After 1-2 weeks, LEGO model designers will work with Mojang to finalize the sets themselves and begin producing a shipping product.

I’m not a Minecraft player myself, but I’ve heard only positive things about it. It’s obvious that the game has a committed fan base ready to snap up these sets, and hopefully LEGO doesn’t have any problems crafting a finished product. My guess is that LEGO is thrilled to tap into a new market with such high demand. It’s also heartening to see that one of LEGO’s online services finally worked for the company. After the closings of Universe and DesignByMe, I was starting to worry about LEGO’s online failures. This is a resounding success any way you look at it, and probably got many more people to sign up for and use CUUSOO.
– via the Brothers Brick

What’s in a name?

I just had to laugh out loud when I read this. Apprently Verizon will be introducing a somewhat overpriced Android tablet named the Motorola Droid XYBoard 8.2 (and its 10.1″ variant) later this month. Yes, there’s always the general uselessness of yet another Android tablet to write about, but what really struck me was the shockingly awful name. This sort of thing is hardly uncommon in the tech world. And try as I might, I just cannot figure out why companies keep doing it – it’s certainly not to make things easier for their customers.

Just look at phone names like the Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch or the RIM BlackBerry Curve 9360. Laptops called the HP Pavilion dv7-6179us or my girlfriend’s Sony Vaio VPCEA290X. Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Enterprise, or Ultimate Editions. How about a Sharp AQUOS Quattron LC-52LE835U television?

Some companies, or at least specific products, get this right. Apple obviously springs to mind – you won’t find more than two words in any of their products’ names. And there are plenty of others: the Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation 3, and Microsoft Xbox 360 all sport succinct and catchy names. Even Google gives simple nicknames to each new Android version. Gingerbread, Honeycomb, and Ice Cream Sandwich are all sequential titles and easy for most people to remember.

I see two reasons for this strange aversion to simple naming in tech. The first is that it makes corporate supply databases easier to manage. It seems easier to find a part designated for the Dell Inspiron 620 MT than for an “iMac.” Apple’s used the iMac moniker since ’98 and has seen at least 5 major redesigns in that time. Not to mention the various options for hard drive size, RAM, CPU speed, or display size of each model. But most of these specs can be found by simply asking what year it was bought, taking a quick trip to the Apple menu, or checking the serial number. If a corporation as large as Apple or Nintendo can manage its inventory without obscure numeric labels, then it isn’t impossible.

The second reason is that the people making these products simply do not care. Perhaps, if they’re the engineering type, they consider model numbers to be easier and more precise than phonetic names. If they’re the businessman in charge (or businesswoman in the case of HP), it’s likely that they couldn’t care less how the products are named. Maybe they pay a focus group to come up with inoffensive, bland titles like Pavillion, Latitude, or Satellite and then slap a few digits on the end.

But the kicker is that these sloppy naming conventions only confuse people. I’d wager that most Dell employees couldn’t name half the laptop varieties they sell. At that point, how can regular consumers be expected to keep them straight? Perhaps it’s a byproduct of offering too much “choice” to buyers, which is never a good idea to begin with. If that’s the root of the problem, then why do we get things like the Droid XyBoard? There are only two models, but each of them is horribly named. It’s probably just incompetent management, but it’s still shameful.


– via Daring Fireball for the the XYBoard link.

Advent Update

The constant advent calendar updates are cluttering up the site, and the time it takes to write a description on Flickr and another one here is prohibitive. Therefore, I’ve decided to continue to post updates to Flickr for the rest of December but not here. There isn’t much one can write about a daily model anyways. So follow along with the City and Star Wars calendars on my photostream, and I’ll get back to writing more here rather than just posting photos. There are some really big things happening, like Carrier IQ, that I’d like to focus on for a change!

Dec 1st (Star Wars)



The first post, the first misstep. I didn’t get this up last night since I was busy applying for grad schools, but here it is. Better late than never I suppose. 

It’s a rather accurate and swooshable Republic Cruiser. I’m really looking forward to these tiny ships – I can tell there will be some creative parts usage to get all the details in such a small package.

Dec 2nd (City)


Today’s City model is a miniature snowball launcher. Now we see why yesterday’s convict held a suspicious white blob. I can’t help but feel that the catapult could be much more effective though – its range is about a foot max.