Guinness Brews Up New Believers in NYC

Guinness gave a simulated tour of its famed St. James’ Gate Brewery at the Altman Building in New York City last night. Though the actual brewery is, of course, in Dublin, the Guinness folks provided a virtual tour via video screens, and talked the audience through a brief history of the company. Founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, who signed a 9,000 year lease at St. James’ Gate, Guinness is now watched over by master brewer Fergal Murray, who is in charge of making sure the dark, creamy beer maintains its consistent texture and flavor. One of the most interesting things I learned was that the famed harp logo associated with Guinness also happens to be the logo of the Irish government. If the harp is facing right, it’s Guinness; if left, it’s the government.

According to the official slogan, it takes exactly 119.5 seconds to pour a perfect pint of Guinness; that half a second is allegedly the difference between a good pint and a perfect one. After being given a perfect (and, more importantly, free) pint upon entering the event, an announcement was made that “our show will begin in 119.5 seconds,” at which point a countdown began. Charismatic comedian Dan Soder then appeared onstage to give us some background on the classic Guinness draught we had just imbibed, which is nitrogenated, a process that sets it apart from other beers and gives it that unique, smooth texture. He also gave us some helpful hints on how to mix Guinness with other beers made by the same company, such as Harp Lager and Smithwick’s Ale: Guinness mixed with Smithwick’s is a “blacksmith,” while Guinness mixed with Harp is a “half and half.”

We then proceeded to try mini-pints of a few special brews developed by Guinness. First up was the Foreign Extra Stout, a tasty brew with slightly more bite to it than the classic Guinness and also a bit more sweetness, giving it a flavor similar to very dark chocolate. The Foreign Extra Stout contains more hops and more alcohol (7.5% ABV) than any other Guinness brew, because it was originally developed to be shipped long distances overseas, and alcohol and hops both act as preservatives. The last beer we sampled was Guinness Black Lager, which was my personal favorite of the three. It is cold brewed with roasted barley, giving it a crisp, clean taste that is lighter and more refreshing than the standard thick, creamy finish of the brew for which Guinness is best known. Though not as strong as the Foreign Extra Stout, it is definitely a better summer beer, and one that I will likely sample again in the coming months.

  

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4 Mobile Apps That Organize Your Hectic Daily Schedule

Chances are you have a lot going on in your life. Personal friendships, family, work, and hobbies all have you running in several different directions, and it never seems as if you have enough time to sit down and organize or schedule out your life. Advances in technology have made organizing and scheduling out your day as easy as turning on your smartphone.


Image Courtesy of Flickr

There are several different mobile apps that are designed with the intent to help you organize your daily hectic schedule. If you are finding it hard to balance your daily schedule, grab your prepaid Android phones, iPhones and other smartphones and start downloading the following mobile apps.

Evernote

Say good-bye to the old post-it notes, and say hello to Evernote. The Evernote app is a great way to help you make the world-famous ‘to-do’ list. These lists can list everything from items you need to pick up at the store, to places you need to go to for the day. Evernote allows you to leave three different types of notes including text, audio and pictures, which means there’s no reason you should forget to do something due to your busy schedule.

Pageonce Personal Finance

Sometimes when life gets so busy you honestly forget to balance your checkbook or keep track of your bank account balance. When you download the Pageonce Personal Finance app you will never face a situation where you are left wondering about your finances. Pageonce Personal Finance works by collecting all your information from bank accounts, credit cards, and other accounts, and displays it all at the touch of a button. This allows you to keep track of your personal finances even when you are on the go.

Google Calendar

Never miss an appointment or event again with the Google Calendar. Google Calendar can take numerous dates and appointments from your mobile phone, Outlook calendar, and other computer and phone applications, and places that information into one place. No longer will you have to page through hundreds of appointments to find out what is going on. When you download the Google Calendar you will have everything you need to know at the touch of a button.

Remember the Milk

Ever have a situation where you went to the store and couldn’t remember what you went there for? When you download Remember the Milk you can create numerous lists of items that you need to remember to pick up. The lists can be organized by date, content, or priority allowing you to make sure everything gets taken care properly. The best part is you can program Remember the Milk to send you reminders via text message or email, so there is no reason why you would forget to pick something up at the store.

Life really is like a three-ring circus. Numerous mobile apps can provide you with the tools you need to organize and optimize your busy, hectic and sometimes crazy daily life.

  

Zynga and the death of Draw Somehing

As a gamer and more specifically a lover of indie games, my default stance with Zynga is pure revulsion. The company has blatantly and shamelessly cannibalized so many indie hits at this point that I simply will not support any product they produce. The latest title to join my blacklist is Draw Something, the smash hit from OMGPOP. Zynga recently purchased the company for nearly $200 million, a purchase that drew a lot of raised eyebrows, including my own.

Don’t get me wrong, Draw Something is fun. It’s a perfect recreation of a game I know as Telestrations. In the physical world, Telestrations requires players to sketch a word using a fat-tip, dry-erase marker. The drawings are expectedly bad, but that’s part of the fun. The same is true of Draw Something – human fingers just aren’t precise enough to draw an accurate representation of Kanye West on a smartphone, but they can damn sure mock up some window-shade sunglasses and draw a bar of gold next to a shovel.

But Draw Something doesn’t quite have the magic that makes players stick around after the initial week-long excitement is gone. For me, interactions over Draw Something didn’t create enough of a story. With Telestrations, players pass their drawings around a room. The next person writes the phrase the original artist was trying to sketch. The person of that draws – it’s a game of sketch telephone. The real fun of the game, though, is in the retelling of the drawings. You get to see where players missed the mark. Draw Something is just too easy after a few plays with a new player. You know how they think, how they communicate an idea, and because Draw Something presents a hangman-style letter bank from which to guess, getting the word right is a simple process of elimination.

I could see why Zynga might have initially been interested in Draw Something; the game was pulling 15 million users a day through Facebook alone. It was at the top of the app charts, one of the highest grossing apps around. But just a couple weeks later Facebook traffic fell by half. Despite the company’s recent announcement of a partnership with Dreamworks for ads inside the game, it’s hard to see the Draw Something deal paying out. Even with a nice ad deal, there won’t be enough players in a couple months to make the math work.

I can’t say I’m sad to see Zynga’s stock continue to tumble, but I hope the company’s fall only leaves room for more games to fill its void. For a couple weeks, Draw Something had me connected to friends spread all over the country. If a company that respects IP can swoop in to deliver a lasting version of that experience, I’ll be a happy man.

  

The Light from the TV Shows: Taking a Gander at the 2012-2013 Season

Sure, the kick-off of the 2011-2012 TV season is still about four months away, give or take, but it’s never too soon to start getting excited about the new shows that will be gracing the broadcast networks come the fall…or to start placing bets on which ones will be the first to be cancelled. I’m keeping my mouth shut on both topics for the time being, but I have no doubt that most folks who check out these network-provided plot synopses and trailers won’t hesitate for a moment to offer up their opinions, so I look forward to reading what ya’ll have to say about what’s coming up…

ABC

666 Park Avenue (Sun., 10–11PM): At the ominous address of 666 Park Avenue, anything you desire can be yours. Everyone has needs, desires and ambition. For the residents of The Drake, these will all be met, courtesy of the building’s mysterious owner, Gavin Doran (Terry O’Quinn). But every Faustian contract comes with a price. When Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable), an idealistic young couple from the Midwest, are offered the opportunity to manage the historic building, they not only fall prey to the machinations of Doran and his mysterious wife, Olivia (Vanessa Williams), but unwittingly begin to experience the shadowy, supernatural forces within the building that imprison and endanger the lives of the residents inside. Sexy, seductive and inviting, The Drake maintains a dark hold over all of its residents, tempting them through their ambitions and desires, in this chilling new drama that’s home to an epic struggle of good versus evil.

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Jenna Wolfe does a cannonball wearing a bikini

Many of you know Jenna Wolfe as a national correspondent for “The Today Show” on NBC who also co-anchors the Sunday edition of “Today.”

Here you’ll see a bikini-clad Jenna in a great video clip from Tout where she does a cannonball in her pool. Check it out and try out Tout, which is basically Twitter for short videos.

  

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