Saturday, July 28, 2007

Possibly final Harry Potter predictions

Sorry. I've been on vacation, the first day of which was spent reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. While I enjoyed the book immensely, the epilogue was strangely unsatisfying. It was at once too much and too little information. I'm sure Rowling will be forced to provide some further clarification as to the fates of our heroes, so I offer what may be my last Harry Potter predictions (but I doubt it).

  1. Harry and his friends will start receiving petronus spam. Silvery glowing animals will appear with messages like "Enlarge your wand" and "Albanian officials will transfer millions to your Gringott's vault."
  2. Having grown up in the muggle world, Harry will finally introduce telephones, e-mail and ball point pens to the wizard world, allowing them to have same-day communication, and to get rid of those stupid quills and parchment, and tying notes to owls' legs.
  3. Why can't these folks hold on to their wands? With something as important as the wand, they seem awfully careless about leaving them lying around, or giving them up to the first expelliarmus that wafts their way. How about sewing miniature wands into their clothing? Or, better yet, surgical implants? Imagine just being able to shoot spells with your fingertip!
  4. Speaking of wands, since when is magic so directional? If your wand aim is a little off, your spell misses its intended victim and lops off someone else's ear? A little too light sabre-y, if you ask me, though I guess it makes for good cinematic effects. How about if someone invents a diffuser that spreads the charm, or a way to have it affect only the target?
  5. Even with the wand waving, Molly Weasley still gets stuck doing the cooking and cleaning for whoever happens to apparate by for dinner. C'mon, J.K. I know most of the magical world is still medieval, but I think we could move a little past this. I think any future HP writings will address this, probably in a very self-conscious way.
Ok, so this is probably not final. I'm sure I'll think of some more. Or maybe I can finally get back to thinking about something more real.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Truth Will Out

This would probably be an excellent time for me to make my final predictions for the outcome of the Harry Potter series, so I won't. For one thing, too much has already been leaked, so any surprisingly accurate predictions I might make would be suspect. More importantly, though, is that my track record in the predictions department is not as good as Sybil Trelawney's when she's not entranced.

What I do find interesting, though, is the role of the Internet, both in helping to build the popularity of the series, and in the recent information leaks that have so ired the publishers and author. I certainly tip my hat to J.K. Rowling. This is a really good series, in terms of creating a story that can captivate so many millions for so many pages without once mentioning Paris Hilton. Her accomplishment as an author is astounding. Who would have thought a decade ago that 10 year olds would be plowing through 800 page novels?

However, I think a lot of the popularity of these books is due to word of e-mouth. Information and recommendations that used to be spread by face-to-face conversations, letters and phone calls now propagate at light speed, reaching millions in seconds. And the ability to discuss something as entertaining as Rowling's books resulting in people at antipodes of the earth feeling they belonged to the same community ... the community of wand-waving witch and wizard wannabees. (Whew!) Obviously, the traditional media (e.g., movies and TV) contributed, but the role of the Internet in popularizing the story can not be ignored.

Likewise, it's the Internet that's lead to the rash of leaks about book 7 of the series. The fact that any blogger or vanity web site owner can flaunt his or her access by posting restricted information is, in itself, the enticement. Why else spoil this long-awaited book release except for the self-glorification of being in the know?

I think the real lesson is that information security on the Internet is a myth. If the information exists, people will find ways to get it.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Another HP7 guess

I've been trying to re-read all the Harry Potter in preparation for the release of number 7, so I'm fresh on the story. I had forgotten that at the end of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry and Dumbledore have a talk about the fact that Harry spared Pettigrew's life, thus allowing him to escape and return to help Voldemort. Dumbledore reassures Harry that the consequences of his charity are unpredictable, but that more than likely, he'll be glad to have Voldemort's servant be in debt to Harry Potter.

This amounts to about a page worth of book, so it's too important to ignore. I'm now calling that in the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort, Pettigrew will either save Harry or kill Voldemort, or both.

Or was this already obvious to everyone?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I was stunned to see an area about 10 feet wide and the entire length of the mall cordoned off. Inside, people were lounging about with their lattes, reading magazine or e-mail or both. It took me a minute to realize these people were waiting for the iPhone to go on sale at the Apple Store about 6 hours hence. According to reports, some people camped out days in advance at their nearest Apple or AT&T store.

What is that about? What would be wrong with waiting a day? Or a week? Or a month?

From all reports, the iPhone does an excellent job of helping you use a very slow Internet connection. There's a lot of glitzy technology in there, all crowded behind what looks like a very seductive touch screen. Stroke it the right way, and it'll make the earth move for you. Phone, Web browser, e-mailer, iPod, video/photo player, etc., all packed into one neat little box.

Sounds like a great time-saver for the busy person on the go. Exactly unlike all these folks waiting in line for a day to buy one.