‘Web/Tech’ Category

CineVegas announces 2009 dates, gets Shorts-sighted

November 14th, 2008

CineVegas logo

You might think it’s a little soon for us to be discussing the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival, given that it’s June 11 start is still seven months away. But if you’re an aspiring filmmaker, you might think differently, as submissions for the 11th annual fest are being accepted from Dec. 1, 2008 to March 1, 2009.

With cash prizes totaling $14,000 awarded to select film categories and previous winners going on to festival circuit fame and grandiose distribution deals, CineVegas is the perfect launch platform for your Scorcese-like epic. But act soon, because the competition is fierce.

“2008 was a record-breaking year for CineVegas, as the Festival received the most submissions in its history,” said Trevor Groth, artistic director for the festival. “I know that 2009 will also break records, not just in the number of submissions we receive, but in the quality of films that we are seeing.”

If you fall into that category of “the next Quentin Tarantino,” then you’ll want to click on over to www.withoutabox.com, where festival submissions for CineVegas are being handled. Submissions received by Jan. 15 will be eligible for an early bird discount – and hey, every penny counts these days.

In related CineVegas news, the festival recently re-launched its CineVegas Shorts Online microsite, where some of the best shorts from the 2002 to 2006 festivals can now be viewed at www.cinevegas.com/shorts. Perfect for those of you looking for something to watch while you eat that tuna sandwich at your desk.

The Day After… helps you live out your PopStar Guitar dreams

October 23rd, 2008

The Day After

If the measure of a band’s success these days is it’s appearance on an interactive, virtual music playing video game – as opposed to those antiquated concepts such as airplay, album sales and concert bookings – then Las Vegas’ own The Day After… has “made it.” The three-piece alternative rock band has landed its song “Car Crash,” from 2006’s album A Different Way to Get By, onto the song list of XS Games’ PopStar Guitar, a new “music rhythm game” coming soon to Wii and Playstation 2.

The Day After… is in good company on the apparent Rock Band knock-off, joined by such bands as Fall Out Boy, Paramore and All-American Rejects. PopStar Guitar differentiates itself from Guitar Hero and Rock Band by offering more pop-friendly song selections, and instead of licensed guitar controller replicas from Fender and Gibson, PopStar Guitar uses proprietary “AirG” controllers – essentially, two wireless Wii handle attachments. Look for the game to hit stores by November.

Death of Rock ‘n’ Roll? Hardly

August 18th, 2008

These hairstyles are headed for a heartbreak.

I came across an interesting post on a local blog mourning the closing of a number of local music venues — many of which closed years ago — and declaring the “once booming music scene of Las Vegas is nearly gone.” Really? Now, would that be the “booming music scene” that gave false hope to bands such as 12 Volt Sex, Professor Punn and Attaboy Skip? Because the music scene that came after the closure of Mr. Davis’ vaunted venues — The Boston, the Huntridge, Sanctuary — has not only spawned arguably Las Vegas’ most commercially successful music groups (The Killers, Panic at the Disco, The Cab), but has also seen the stabilization of centralized, small-scale venues (The Bunkhouse, Beauty Bar, Jillians) while those overpriced casinos continue to reinvest those ticket sales into music venues such as Wasted Space, Revolution Lounge and the forthcoming Rok nightclub.

Vegas Arts in the news: Chihuly debate, Metro Arts Council

August 12th, 2008


The work of glass sculptor Dale Chihuly has become a Las Vegas fixture thanks to his permanent installation in the Bellagio, Fiori di Como. But is it art, or is it mere decoration? That’s the topic of discussion this week over at ArtsÉtoile, sparked by reactions to Chihuly’s current show at San Francisco’s de Young museum. Join in the discussion at ArtsÉtoile. We don’t like to declare what is or is not art, only what is or isn’t pretty. And Fiori di Como sure is pretty.

As seen in the Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Weekly last week, Joan Lolmaugh has formed the nonprofit Metro Arts Council to reinforce a strong arts community here in Sin City. MAC is off to a good start, thanks to a $30,000 grant from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to develop a website, experiencelasvegas.com, the prototype of which will be unveiled on Oct. 6.

Wait — $30K to develop just the prototype of a Vegas arts website?! Um, perhaps Rossi Ralenkotter would like to take notice of a certain other Vegas-based website that has been promoting the arts since 2005? Starts with a “V” and rhymes with “Ray Gas Pin Fight?” We could do a lot with $30K … or even $10K … how about just a Bennie?

LICD pwns Las Vegas

August 11th, 2008

The protagonists of Ryan Sohmer’s online comic strip, Least I Could Do, are on vacation in Las Vegas during its current story arc. Aside from spot-on satirical jabs at high hotel fees and drunken pool-goer behavior, Sohmer uses his characters to make not-so-subtle commentary on the rampant waste of water in a desert city for such luxuries as misters:

least i could do

You really need to click on the image above to read the sad-but-true punchline ending of today’s strip.

Boyd Gaming lays down its hammers at Echelon Place

August 1st, 2008

Hey, you, step away from that crane lever!

Via Classic Las Vegas, the R-J reports Boyd Gaming has halted construction on Echelon Place until likely 2009.

This just after news that MGM-Mirage is reportedly having difficulties with finances for CityCenter.

In other news, the streetscaping down on Casino Center Boulevard south of Charleston Boulevard in the Arts District is done. Anyone want to open a business down there to take advantage? No? Didn’t think so.

Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?

February 23rd, 2008


CityLife, the Las Vegas alt-weekly owned by the decidedly alt-nothing Stephens Media Group (publisher of the Review-Journal), recently launched a new forum for its staffers to unload humorous news commentary upon the unsuspecting public, CityBlog. The blogosphere is not a new territory for the paper — editor Steve Sebelius has ranted in his own CL-hosted blog, Various Things and Stuff, for quite a while now. But CityBlog is the place where all of the publication’s staffers can mind-dump about such topics as politics, nightlife, live music, the Arts District and, uh, necrogasms.

It’s assembled with a somewhat (depending on the writer) tongue-in-cheek tone and uses random photos gathered from the internet to illustrate the sometimes irreverent commentary. We might even add its RSS feed to our Google Reader. But we’ll let you decide what you do with yours. Ahem.

‘Beneath the Neon’ author goes solo, gets creative

December 20th, 2007

Las Vegas CityLife staff writer and former news editor Matthew O’Brien announced yesterday on his blog that he’ll be leaving the alternative weekly paper after 10 years as a writer and editor for the Stephens Media publication.

Matt O’Brien“I want to challenge myself more as a ‘creative’ writer,” O’Brien wrote at Beneaththeneon.com. “I want to write more books, screenplays, essays, commentaries, book reviews, etc., and less news stories and news briefs. While I really like reporting, I want to use my own voice more. It’s time for new challenges.”

This announcement comes in the wake of the loss of another long-time CityLife staffer, Kevin Capp, as well as the success of O’Brien’s first book, Beneath the Neon. Released earlier this year, the Huntington Press publication — based on a series of articles originally published in the CityLife by O’Brien and Joshua Ellis — received positive notices all around for its explorations into the lives of the homeless beneath the streets of Las Vegas. The author took an extended sabbatical from his CityLife duties a few years ago to work on the book, which, according to his website, he is developing into a screenplay.

Things I’ve learned about Google AdSense and AdWords …

November 14th, 2007

For those of you not paying attention (and, I gather, it’s most of you, not because you don’t pay attention, but because this blog’s content is so awesome you are overwhelmed), there are banner and text ads floating somewhere in the sidebars and occasionally in the entries of this fine weblog. Those ads come courtesy of Google’s AdSense, which pays you revenue based on click-thrus on "relevant" ads you place on your website.

I have AdSense ads running on a few of my web ventures, including VEGASinsight, my personal site (www.pjperez.com) and, obviously, this blog. Those ads are delivered through Google’s AdWords program, which is basically the flipside of AdSense: You pay X amount of dollars per month to X amount of ad impressions on AdSense network websites (such as, um, this one). So, if for example, you place an ad using AdWords targeting the keywords "Las Vegas," chances are your ad, based on the content in my blog or website, will show up.

I am also an AdWords user, though for financial reasons, I have temporarily suspended the service. It works pretty well though: In addition to popping up in high-profile places such as MySpace, the ads also show up as results when someone does a Google search for, say, "Downtown Las Vegas" or "Las Vegas indie rock." You get the idea. Using AdWords probably increased my VEGASinsight traffic by about double, but my return on the ads just didn’t justify the cost.

AdSense tracks ad performance through "channels" — which allows me to tell which placements, color schemes, etc. work more effectively. Sadly, I did not really catch on to the full power of channels until the last few months, so the first nine months or so of ad revenue do me no good in regard to figuring out which ad placements on which sites worked best.

Bear in mind, I haven’t received a dime from Google yet, because AdSense doesn’t pay out until you’ve reached $100 in revenue, and after nearly a year, I’ve only hit about $65. And I was, for a few months, putting out $30 each month for AdWords. Do the math. Not that the goal of these websites is to make a profit. But there are operating costs–hosting, registration, mailing lists, etc.–and at the least, I’d like to cover those so I can keep a resource such as VEGASinsight up and running.

The best thing I have determined after studying my AdSense reports is that the service’s "referral" ads–which allow you to pick and choose specific products and services to advertise on your sites–have not earned me one thin dime. Now, while having them up on the websites isn’t taking away anything from the other ads, they’re not helping. So I might spend my next designated web updating period killing all the referral ads. I’m not sure how smart that is, but basic math tells me that 100 percent of zero is zero, so there you go.

If you’d like a humorous take on these services and the "free stuff" offer I received from Google, check out this video:

Oh, the Hype! The Hype!

October 15th, 2007

Curses, people: My favorite site for discovering/recovering music, The Hype Machine, is launching a new version of, um, itself, but here’s the trick: it won’t launch until 10,000 people are viewing its front page all at once. That means 10,000 of us need to leave this window open on our browsers before the music blog aggregator will be accessible (to all but those few people who already have beta test access).

Even Neil Gaiman’s pushing this on his blog. Come on, people, load up and leave it up. Only 7,000 6,500 or so more people to go.

EDIT, 5:30 p.m.: OK, publicity stunt over. The username and password for the “beta” version of Hype Machine is … get ready … “hype”.

Hype Machine indeed. Well, thanks for the extra love coming from Google, Technorati and the like.