September 2008 Archives

The popular (in the U.S., at least) TiVo interface comes to the PC

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/080929/technology/technology_tec_tivo_for_the_pc

http://www.unwiredview.com/2008/09/25/google-wants-to-disintermediate-cellular-market-too/

Slingbox Goes HD - TheStreet TV

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"Senior Technology Correspondent Gary Krakow reviews the Slingbox Pro-HD-- which delivers streaming high-def video on your PC or on the run".

It's not surprising that Slingbox is introducing an HD model.  The only surprise is that it has taken this long.

But this review on TheStreet TV annoyed me.  This apparent expert makes two statements that are incorrect and misleading.

First, he says that the product is available now, "in time for the February switchover where everybody goes HD".   He's referring to the February 2009 deadline for the shutdown of analogue signals in the United States at which time all over-the-air transmission will go digital.  What's wrong with his statement is the fact that while everyone will be switching to digital transmission, not everyone will be switching to HD (high-definition) broadcasting.  You can't do HD without going digital, but going digital does not necessarily mean going HD.

The second error is his statement that the product "also has an analogue HD tuner".  As I just said, HD only works with digital signals -- there's no such thing as an analogue HD tuner (at least not in the sense of any industry broadcast standards).  What he should say is that it has an integrated ATSC tuner -- that's a digital tuner that's capable of tuning over-the-air digital SD (standard definition) and HD broadcasts (and other digital formats as defined in the ATSC digital broadcasting standard).

There's enough confusion out there as it is about the U.S. analogue shutdown (and the corresponding August 31, 2011 Canadian shutdown) without adding this sort of misleading  information to the mix.



My digital attic

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I came across the paragraph below on digital hoarding within the general Wikipedia article on hoarding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoarding) and found it quite interesting. 

With the advent of personal computers people started hoarding digital data. In 1980s they started storing megabytes of interesting texts, images and software on floppy disks. Two decades later, computer users hoard on their hard disks gigabytes of songs, movies, and software. Even though most of the content is not unique and can be easily downloaded from the Internet, many people enjoy creating large personal collections.

I'll admit that I'm a bit of a digital hoarder, but I don't store content that can be easily be reacquired as and when needed.  In fact, the whole notion of Media 3.0 runs contrary to this.

However, as I've switched from computer to computer over the last 20+ years I have moved a lot of data with me each time.  It's mostly documents and old work products.  A quick look shows that I've got personal "stuff" dating back to 1989 and work "stuff" that goes back as far as 1986.

Most of this, of course, has no value whatsoever.  But at the same time, it really has no cost, either, because digital storage is so cheap.  In fact, the effort to sort through this digital morass to find what has value and discard what doesn't would introduce a cost -- my time.

Interestingly, too, is the fact that the information contained in my "digital attic" is much more easily accessible (and therefore, arguably, more useful) than it was 20 years ago.  Thanks to products like Google Desktop, I can find much of this content with only a few keystrokes (although some of the file formats are so arcane that they're not understood by modern technology).

I'll go on keeping all this stuff -- it's just not worth the time to sort through it.  Just do me a favour -- when I go, bury my hard drive with me in case I ever need that old phone list from 1992.  Hey, ya never know.

[Update:  I just noticed that I've been using various editions of Quicken to keep track of things since at least January 1, 1990... wow!]

Not ground-breaking media news, but, hey, it's based on my brother's book.  Congrats Rob!  :-)

Hopefully there will be an innovative new media aspect to this.

[note: the deal with ABC has been finalized, although this report doesn't reflect that]

http://www.reuters.com/article/televisionNews/idUSN1939748220080919

TelecomTV - Napster sold to Best Buy

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The power -- and perils -- of the Web

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United Airlines (UAL Corp.) shares were halted today (Sept. 8, 2008) following rumors that the airline holding company was filing for bankruptcy, a rumor UAL said was completely untrue. An old news item on United Airlines seeking bankruptcy inadvertently resurfaced on a Web site (reportedly an old story from the Chicago Tribune that resurfaced on the South Florida Sun-Sentinel website), triggering a sell-off, CNBC reported. 

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/ual-says-bankruptcy-rumor-completely/story.aspx?guid=%7BCC693DCA%2D17A6%2D4639%2DA6CA%2DF6DFD7024961%7D&dist=TQP_Mod_mktwN

http://www.reportonbusiness.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080905.whmv0905/BNStory/Business/?cid=al_gam_nletter_maropen

9% decline in music sales and a mere 2% growth in DVDs.  Revenue from games, books and 40% growth in "new technology product category" helps offset revenue drop.

Hmm.   Book sales face considerable competition and aren't likely to grow (and indeed will come under pressure from e-books).  Oh, wait, the group's Watersone book chain experienced a 4.3% drop in sales. 

Games?  Well, the drop in music sales and the anemic growth in DVD sales are because of... surprise... digital distribution.  Games will go that way, too.

What the "new technology product category" is isn't explained in the article -- it's a widely picked-up Reuters story and none of the papers I found that carried it dug any deeper into what this means.  Maybe it's the so-called "gadgets" category on HMV.com (and probably similarly in-store)?  Well, if that's the case, that seems to be dominated by various MP3 players and accessories, game consoles, USB flash drives, etc.  Useful stuff to be sure... but margins are slim and competition is stiff.  Can it save the business?  I doubt it.

It's surprising that the stock has risen 11% over the past year on the London Stock Exchange.  Wake up and smell the tea, chaps... the party's likely over for HMV.  You need only look at the once-mighty Tower Records or Sam the Record Man to see where this is going.



http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10032491-93.html

Amazon flicks on its streaming-video service
http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_26368.aspx

"It's a new syndrome that's defined as being unable to find an instant answer to a question or a problem because you're not near an Internet connection. Some 44 per cent of people surveyed in Britain say they suffer from it. And another 27 per cent insist their stress levels go up when they can't get online."


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