Monday, October 31, 2005

Porn on iPods raising eyebrows (among other things)

Six months ago if you were to ask me to categorize the types of video that would immediately jump to the forefront in the then non-existent video podcasting space, I'd easily said (1) news, (2) religion and (3) porn. I'm therefore moderately intrigued by the resistance to immediately translate mass amounts of pornography for the new video-enabled iPod and the legion of knockoff devices it'll spawn.

What's of particular interest is that such definance apparently stems from major adult production companies themselves, wanting to avoid a littany of foreseeable lawsuits as a result of underaged people inappropriately accessing blue material. I must say I'm impressed.

It's like when Budweiser started running "don't drink and drive" ads - a new sensible maturity emanating from the San Fernando Valley. It's the kind of savvy PR tactic/right thing to do that makes me want to go out and rent a Jenna Jameson DVD, just because.

Everyone knows there's always been a strong link between sex and technology, so the issue isn't encouraging the distribution of pornography - it's controlling access by demography.

Companies directly involved with distributing such material want to contribute to the development of a parental locking control system on the iPod to prevent children from storing and/or accessing such material. And other DRM-esque features like age-verifying a user prior to downloading and copy-protecting adult content to prohibit transferring files between devices are in the works. But that's just the initiative from the big companies, the instant and immediate targets of class action suits, not the cease and decist-caliber independent publishers giving people their jollies for $11.59 per month.

In time these efforts will give rise to new and interesting ways of delivering content in the Digital Age. Lessons learned will trickle down in a retroactively progressive fashion, if you will, to more traditionally mainstream classifications of content. This will mean better, more reliable, more secure and legal distribution models for all types of multimedia (text, audio, video, imagery), helping to address the ever-present quandary of piracy.

Portable porn has been envisioned for a long time, and the adoption of such content on the PlayStation Portable and iPod is, dare I say, critical to the success of mobile video overall, both technologically and in terms of a reliable revenue model. Adam Curry, the father of podcasting, predicts time-shifting adult material being phenomenally huge towards promoting portable communications, interpersonally and for business. Adult entertainment has for years been the litmus test that validates the commercial legitimacy of a new platform or product; everyone relies on it, but no one talks about it.

There are already several services, paid and otherwise, that produce mature mobile content for the PSP and other video-capable devices. Stag images and movies, custom formatted for portable video devices, are popping up left and right, motivated specifically by the expected commercial explosion of the video iPod. Several independent, DIY online services have already produced softcore and/or hardcore feeds that can be subscirbed to and downloaded in freeware RSS aggregators like iTunes, copied onto a portable device, and then played back. Suicide Girls joined as being the first to get a lot of press in offering content suitable for the new iPod's H.264 video, 768 Kbps, 320x240 hi-res, 2.5" LCD screen. And those sites followed the footsteps of Sam Sugar's PSPPorn and Porn4PSP in offering content suitable for Sony's mobile communications device.

In the grand scheme of things, porn continues to innovate, if you want to call it that, and whether you admit it or not.

Fantasy football, Week 8: getting the most out of your Hurricanes

This is a printable version of the segment on fantasy football for the 2005 NFL season I host on my TV show, "JockTalk" on KUAM-TV8.

This week we're doing something special to commemorate the halfway mark in this NFL season - we're taking a special look at players from the University of Miami. Great schools have scores of guys in the league - Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, USC...but no other institution of higher learning has as many players in the league than the "U".

Keep in mind the bye week teams - the Falcons, Colts, Jets and Seahawks all have the week off, so that means no Reggie Wayne ('01), no Edgerrin James ('99) and no Vinnie Testeverde ('87). Too bad, because the first two are fantasy studs, so you'll have to resort to your bench. Vinnie gets to rest his aching Achilles' heel in preparation for the Chargers next week.

As for who you should play, how about the guys from the national championship team of '01? Clinton Portis won it all in Larry Coker's first year in South Florida, but only has 1 rushing TD this season. Still, he's always played bigger than his 5'11", 212-lb. frame, and has the lowest center of gravity of any back in the NFL. He can bust a 150-yd game at any point, but expect him to be better in the red zone against the Giants.

Also play his fellow redskin Santana Moss (Class of 2000). He'll be in the Pro Bowl this year for his speed, and he leads the league in receiving yards and is second in TDs. He's found a home in D.C., and should have one on your roster. Also in that game, Jeremy Shockey ('01) is averaging 5 rec/game and 17 yard/rec, so he's good for points. He also gets a lot of looks with the giants revamped aerial attack, and is among the league leaders for yards after catch for tight ends. Staying with that position, another tight end to play is Bubba Franks ('00). The Pack is devastated with injuries, so play Big Bubba...he's a deeper threat than most give him credit for, good for a score.

What about '02's Ken Dorsey? Unlike most Hurricanes, he's not from the Sunshine State. The former Heisman finalist hails from California, but he's starting for the Niners against the Bucs. Alex Smith's injury might mean 2 TDs in Dorsey's 5th career start, and although he faces a good Tampa Bay secondary, the home cold of the Bay Area gives him an advantage. Jarrett Payton ('04) isn't such a bad fantasy choice for the Titans, given Chris Brown's injury and Travis Henry's suspension. Expect maybe a TD, but not big-time yardage from the the "Son of Sweetness". Lastly, 2002's Willis McGahee is a fantasy goldmine. The Bills probably won't get the win in Foxboro against the Pats in the Sunday Night game but McGahee can put up numbers - 150 YDS, 2 TDs.

OK - what about the 'Canes that you should have riding the pine? Roscoe Parrish ('04) has only played in one game this season, is is outshined by Buffalo's Eric Moulds, Lee Evans and Josh Reed. Last year Andre Johnson ('02) made the Pro Bowl, but this season he got hurt for the first time in his career and was putting up sub-par performances anyway. And Najeh Davenport ('01) is on injured reserve. And even though Kellen Winslow, Jr.'s only played 1 game in his first two seasons, but the man has skills and is a good choice to draft next year. Also something to think about - on the defensive side of the ball, Ray Lewis ('96) & Ed Reed ('01) are both hurt, so play as many Steelers as you have on your Roster - Ben Roethlisburger, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Willie Parker...all can get big points for your league.

No BCS love for 'Bama?

I wouldn't want to be around Bear Bryant right now - he'd have the BCS committee running gassers until they puked. All I watched, heard, read and received (as in SMS messages and e-mail notifications) in college football this past weekend was how the nation's six undefeateds did. All but one.

Virginia Tech took care of business against BC. USC stomped Wazzu. Texas got off to a rough start and then blew Oklahoma State out of the (Still)water. UCLA had arguably the day's best finish, routing Stanford in OT. Georgia, minus fifth-year senior quarterback DJ Shockley, wound up with the short end of the stick in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. But somewhere, somehow, lost in all the hype and pageantry and glitz and media and tradition and BCS and bullshit, the spotlight forgot to shine on Tuscaloosa.

Have we forgotten how good Alabama is this year?

Sure, the Crimson Tide didn't make it into most sports show's first 10 minutes because they oddly had a non-conference game this late in the season, hanging 35 on Utah State and allowing only a field goal. But lest we forget they play in the SEC, arguably the nation's toughest conference across the board. Any and every conference game is a must-see. And Bama's right at the top, 8-0.

Pride of the Tide Brodie Croyle is having an outstanding year under center, and even after losing junior slot receiver Tyrone Protho to what's one of the more stomach-turning injuries you'll ever see, he's still got weapons. But rare are the national sportswriters who give them their due cred.

They're at Mississippi State next, then play what should be the featured game of the week - pulleeeze, ESPN? - hosting LSU. And then, ah yes, the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 19. And yet they continue to be on the outside looking in within most discussions about a BCS-determined national championship. The relative strength of SEC inter-conference play should give them leverage, vaulting them past the Bruins in the BCS Poll now that the 'Dawgs are out of the #4 spot.

Everyone has pigeonholed Texas-USC as Pasadena locks, and pundits with a decent dialectic can plead a case for Virginia Tech. But 'Bama just isn't mentioned. Had we a proper tournament - need I remind you that NCAA Division I-AA, Division II and Division III all use, to great success, such a format - to determine a national champion, taking the top teams in the Big Ten, Big XII, Pac 10, Big East, ACC, SEC and a pair of at-large berths, Alabama would be right up there, possibly meeting the Hokies or Longhorns in the semis. Wouldn't that be sweet?

Arguably, they haven't had the toughest road to hoe. They beat Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks in Columbia and then demoralized his former team, besting a very confident Florida squad. But that's about it. Still, they've gotten the work done.

My point is that Alabama has proven itself. And they deserve better.

The Sheen-Stamp connection

Ya gotta love AMC. And having IMDB around's not bad, either. It's a permanent fixture of my remote's quick buttons, and I catch at least one good movie every night. I just this past weekend realized that Charlie Sheen and Terence Stamp have more than 1987's "Wall Street" in common (easily my favorite movie...the one that made me go to business school). I can't believe all this time has passed and I never realized that they were both in Young Guns" just a year later.

As soon as the credits started on AMC, it hit me that Sheen's "Dick" and Stamp's John Tunstill both have significant roles...and neither makes it past the halfway point in the film.

Book review: "Murach's Java Servlets and JSP"

The one quality that makes "Murach's Java Servlets and JSP" (buy from Amazon) a clear winner is the quality of the content and clarity of author Andrea Steelman and Joel Murach's writing. They use a friendly, humorous voice that eases the normal tension accompanying such a complex topic as programming Java servlets and designing JavaServer Pages. I'm a C# developer, so this was most appreciated by someone like me. You'll also be thankful for this tone as the book takes you through some very challenging scenarios in developing winning browser-based apps.

The book is the rare breed of tech manual that stays relevant to the neophyte reader and the experienced developer alike. It's outstanding as a college-level classroom reference, with oversized dimensions (it's a large book, height- and width-wise) are loaded with rich illustrations and healthy amounts of code with thorough explanations of the concepts behind then. Physically the book is ready to sustain the harsh conditions of the learning programmer. Its rigid design will survive a reader's rampant paging through chapters to find that one code sample and stretching the book's spine, in the classroom as well as the web shop.

The book presents the reader with the holistic JSP experience, and the organization of the chapters is very logical. I particularly enjoyed the chapters dealing with JavaMail programming, working in SSL environments, database access with JDBC and MySQL, working in the HTTP pipeline, custom JSP tags and use of XML. Also featured are basic discussions of incorporating componentization in your projects through JavaBeans. I also liked wrapping up my reading with the capstone project: designing, coding and deploying a very practical Music Store web app.

The accompanying CD-ROM is outstanding, including the Java 2 SDK for Windows, Tomcat 4.0, MySQL, and trial versions of HomeSite and TextPad.

In criticism, I felt the book to be ironically a little light on servlets themselves. I would have liked to see more on servlets and beans programming discussed, and perhaps highlight a bit more some of the key classes in the Java 2 API. The book also I feel neglects the object-oriented programming concepts that are so critical to modern-day development. Maybe such topics are out of this book's range, but simple class design would have been nice. However, the best-practices approach to development - use of patterns, proper system organization and implementing MVC architecture greatly offset the book's very minor shortcomings.

I fully recommend this book to anyone looking to get into beginning to intermediate JavaServer Pages programming. It's essential to becoming a well-versed Java programmer.

First-to-market: rolling out Guam's first vidcasts

I announced how my station would be supporting video podcasts as part of a new broadband channel service I'm developing. I finally bought the paid version of ImTOO MPEG Converter, which works a lot more efficiently in terms of converting WMVs to MP4s than Quicktime7 Pro for Windows. I'd fully recommend that tool for my fellow Windows hackers looking to get into vidcasting.

This works better for my operations because our videos are inherently captured digitally as WMVs for storage in our Webcast Archives, so it's merely a matter of taking those files and converting them to MP4s. While I'm still working on hacking out iTunes-friendly enhanced podcasts using my Windows tools to do things like chapterizing, time-synched imaging & hyperlinking, but we'll see, given the fact that there are limited automated tools to do so.
The coolest thing is that I just extended my company's existing RSS feed for news, which a ton of people already have plugged into their RSS aggregators (reader apps as well as dedicated podcatchers). We just added the additional s within the feed and referenced the video. Surprisingly, a lot of people are creating dedicated feeds for text, audio and video, rather than create hybrid feeds. (I admit, I initially did this, too.) Thank goodness for feed services like Feedburner that can differentiate between blog posts and podcast elements, and aggregators like Google Reader that can play embedded media.

This is a fun project for me, mainly because I wanted to be the first to do so in my hometown. This makes sense, seeing as how we previously were the first broadcast news station in the region to produce a series of podcasts and a royalty-free, RSS-based music subscription service.

I'm jealous of Mac folk

I'm pretty envious of my Mac friends for being able to use the Apple Podcast Chapter Tool. It's a slick command-line utility that binds XML metadata describing links, images and segments within a podcast in order to create enhanced podcasts. Granted, these only work for iTunes 4.9+, but it's a cool feature I'm trying to bake into my new broadband channel, which includes video podcasts.

Hopefully, there will be a Windows version or at least some equivalent utility hack.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sebastian the Ibis is my vote for nation's top mascot

I've always found the Capitol One Mascot Challenge cute. As a marketing guy, it's a helluva promotion. It's a nice way to get fans to appreciate their beloved personifications of their teams, and for many schools is a chance to get more exposure (like I think Western Kentucky's Big Red, won last year). It's one of the reasons I love college football. I'm casting my vote for Miami's Sebastian the Ibis. He's part of the Captiol One All-America team, and has a rock-solid team behind him.

Major League Baseball has used popular mascots for years like The San Diego Chicken and The Philly Fanatic. Certain NBA teams (Seattle, Phoenix, Utah) do a decent job of promoting mascots, and the NFL is just horrendous at it. There's also something to be said about not using a mascot. Heck, my Michigan Wolverines don't even use a mascot, live animal, or anything other than their M Club. The Yankees don't have one.

At any rate, good luck Sebastian! (Vote for your own favorite mascot here).

Don't roll a Hummer through Berkeley

This poor Hummer got marked up in Berkeley, California, according to noahstone's photostream. He noted that the phallic iconography messed the windows up so much they had to be replaced. Damn shame.

There are about 8 Hummers on Guam at the moment...scant traces of H1's and several H2's. I've not seen any H3's but the brother of a friend of mine just brought back a sweeeeeeet sky blue H2 with the full chrome package.

The additional charges for shipping one of these babies is about another $8,000, usually from Hawaii. With no local dealership, they're a tough buy for the average auto enthusiast, so service rates are through the roof, and don't even get me started on fuel.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Wolverines face scary Northwestern squad

If you've not been following college football this season, hold onto your hat. Challenging the race for the Big Ten title is - GASP! - the Northwestern Wildcats?!?!? No, they didn't interrupt Darnell Autry's acting/modeling career and bring him back into the mix, they're just damn good. I don't fear a whole lot of things as a sports fan, but playing this year's club in Evanston has me reaching for the Pepto.

Quarterback Brett Basanez is Heisman-good, and we're already #25, with the 'Cats are #21. I'm hoping that the M Club bought a case of whatever Steve Breaston was drinking the past two weeks, because he'll need to run up the scoreboard on those NU boys. Their defense allows points (good for UM), but their "O" puts 'em up, too. Mike Hart is gimpy, so let's hope Chad Henne gets some rest, studies his playbook and gets frosh phenom Mario Manningham the ball early (and often) and lets Jason Avant & Breaston go to work.

Go Blue!

On Forbes' "Attack of the Blogs": behold the power of mainstream media

Chris Pirillo fired back as part of the blogging community's collective rejoinder to Forbes' "Attack of the Blogs" article, and touched on some very key arguments. The blogosphere is ripe with salvos of commentary about what's seen as a highly offensive piece...after the magazine admittedly took a very well-timed first shot.

Chris is dead-on in his blog post, but in so doing proves new media's challenge in winning over the unenlightened masses, those not yet living the web lifestyle: new media, in the grand scheme of things, still plays second-fiddle to mainstream media in getting the word out. MSM continues to own the world's greatest distribution channel - timeliness aside, traditional mass media still circulates way better than new media, because more people enjoy newspapers and magazines than their digital equivalents.

So whether the Forbes piece is a brutally honest look at what many in the blogosphere are too myopic to realize, or serves as a gross mis-report as a means to stave off something the magazine is threatened by, the damage is done. Forbes is institutionalized enough to influence those who aren't blogging to shy them away from it. And that's the power of today's big money media machine.

In many cases even the slightest exertion from a major corporation has more immediate influence and greater lasting effect to the fairweather consumer than years of passionate community drive and development. Take podcasting for example: you can argue that prior to the release of iTunes 4.9 this past June, the platform was still underground; it never really took off with mass appeal until Apple rolled out subscription support for DIY radio shows via the iTunes Music Store. A similar argument can be made for video podcasting - it won't really be "accepted" until Microsoft bakes support for it into Windows Media Player v.Next.

Being fortunate to simulaneously swim at both ends of the pool (being involved in MSM and participatory journalism), I'd like to comment on Chris' conclusions:
Certainly. The typical bias and/or political siding of publications, networks and affiliates use their own products as catalysts to incite retort. This works either intentionally for or against you - there's no such thing as bad press.
Ah, yes...misery loves company. MSM's numbers may be diminishing and support may be moving towards Internet-based distribution, but they still get the word out to a mammoth reader base. Here's a great example of a well-known, powerful player making a bold contrast to hundreds of obscure 'Netizens few outside the blogosphere know about posting their responses.
That's true. I'm wouldn't necessarily pigeonhole Forbes in the same category as The National Enquirer, but the article certainly did what it apparently set out to do: make a controversial statement that's polemical, not political. The amount of feedback generated from the article is HUGE. Which was probably by design. It'll sell magazines and get people talking.
I'm not so sure about this one. Most magazines, legit or otherwise, have rigid editorial practices with staffers that pore over every word as a means of projecting a message. Isn't the beauty of blogging, podcasting and the like the fact that we can react, create, publish and distribute our thoughts as raw as we want them to be, sans such editors? In new media we enjoy a lack of control...formal print houses still have to pay their writers, so there's "quality" enforced at some point.
Sure they do. It's the dream of any writer to walk down the street and have an entire community of people talk about their story, editorial, commentary, or report, in ANY context. It's critical to get such notoriety to advance your career to the next step. In this line of work, apathy towards your work is a fate worse than death. Get people to say something - anything - about your work to provoke a thought or invoke an emotion.
Of course they do. And so do radio & TV stations, web sites, etc. - part of any commercial concern is to generate profit. Which means not pissing off the right people. (In this case such a community evidently excludes bloggers.) That's one of the main advantages of new media over traditional censoring: open feedback and constant interactivity.

So while we're going to salvage what we can and launch our own offensive against the piece, we've got a ways to go until we have an equal circulation chain and amount of credibility as mainstream newspapers and magazines. We've got the advantage in archival: the sheer volume of posts ripping the article already far outweigh and will likewise lean people to think the piece is inaccurate. I'm still pushing the concept of everybody being "the media". As a proud blogger I feel slighted by the piece, but the paid journalist in me also sees the point and gets the larger message.

We're getting there, but this round goes to Forbes.

Friday, October 28, 2005

ESPN's reheating of "Cold Pizza"

I'm a fan of the "new", more sports-oriented Cold Pizza on ESPN2. I did try to let the original concept sink in after sitting through the first few weeks of Season 1, but the notion of a morning show - in the very literal sense of the word, from a traditionalist TV standpoint - never caught on with me. And apparently, a ton of other people had similar thoughts. Being a guy in the TV business as a news anchor and sports producer, I was surprised ESPN took that big of a risk and deviated that far from the world of competitive athletics.

I catch CP at night because Guam's time difference from NYC means the 8am broadcast comes on for us at 11pm the next night, and the genuine morning show concept never really took. Not on ESPN. DVD reviews, fashion tips, recipes, mainstream news headlines & weather, etc...on a sports network??? I've got at least 4 other major channels I can find that stuff on, which is dramatically better. Right tool for the right job, says I.

The producers did cast experienced TV people, which is the smarter/safer thing to do when starting out, but neglected to stay focused on the network's core competency.

Fixing the show's big problem - lack of sports credibility - was key: ESPN got rid of cheesecake and stocked up on meat. Removed from duty were the peppy, bubbly personalities in Kit Hoover and Thea Andrews, replaced by experienced sportswriters Woody Paige from The Denver Post and Skip Bayless from The San Jose Mercury News (the latter two admittedly less aesthetic than the former by several orders of magnitude). Jay Crawford, the show's only remaining original castmember, co-anchors with veteran anchor Dana Jacobsen, both experienced broadcast sports journalists.

(And yeah, like any 31-year-old heterosexual male, it sucks not to be greeted by hotties every night, but the content's generally better and more on track for sports enthusiasts.) To the show's credit, there were some intriguing series and recurring segment during the first run, like "America's Best Sports Bars".

At any rate, I watch every night. "1st and 10" is nice to fall asleep to.

TV physics and the $1.99 price point

Here's an outstanding piece by Stephen Speicher on the economics behind network television programming and the pricing model within the iTunes Music Store. Right on target, Stephen.

How many audio podcasters will make the upgrade to video?

One thing that I've been toying with lately is re-subscribing to many of the podcasts I'd stopped listening to for whatever reason. I'm doing this with intent - to see if all the DIY radio show hosts are going to make the jump to video. I caught Adam Curry messing around with a couple of MP4s and video clips in his RSS feed, and I've noticed some of the more liberal podcasters out there with enough money and time put together little clips of their own. It's really neat to see such interest in the new medium. Let's hope it's not fleeting.

I'm embracing portable video myself in distributing my company's RSS-based content. It was always my intent, once the tools for content creation became in wide enough distribution and costs were driv, the publishing platform made hosting affordable and the price and availability of appropriate consumer technology became so low and so prevalent, to deliver video. It's the ultimate platform through which to marshal a message.

So fellow podcasters making the migration to moving pictures, I salute you. Good to see you taking the initiative to try out something new and make your shows that much more entertaining and valuable. But take it from me, 'cause I do it all: if you thought editing audio was hard and laborious, you ain't seen nothing yet. Literally.

The new media regime: mainstream vs. citizen

I was thinking abouyt an earlier blog post in which I said that although I fully support participatory journalism, I'm tragically not in favor of issuing press passes or credentials to citizen journalists. At least not yet.

An analogy I just thought of was the regulation Google uses between the sites, services and sources it lists and indexed within Google News and the new Google Blog Search. The former is very meticulous (or used to be anyway) in selecting resources to list and crawl, being only formal, legitimate news organizations. Obviously, the latter applies to the general blogosphere. A nice system of reliable control is therefore maintained, in being able to provide a very distinct separation between what's coming out of the mainstream and the word on the street. You might disagree, but I prefer this method.

I really am loving the fact that "the media" is no longer a separate entity from the general population, and further like how it's been delineated to what's mainstream and what's citizen-based.

As an interesting corollary, Steve Outing wonders whether MSM should train PJ. I thought that freedom to express onesself through open distribution channels was the point.

This is the stuff

I just got some Breyer's Reese's Peanut Butter Ice Cream. It looked interesting enough in the grocer's freezer, and it's the weekend, so my lactose intolerance is more managable. One word: whoa.

This is some seriously good stuff. It's rich as hell, but really good.

Has Google re-indexed my resume?

I'm wondering if Google's re-indexed my resume for some reason. Such would be curuous, seeing as how it's been online for at least two years off my old blog. I've gotten four job inquiries this week from hiring managers who said they Googled certain qualifications (ASP.NET and C#, mainly), and they all found me.

I try and keep my CV as current as possible, but it looks like people are sniffing at it more than usual these days.

Washington Post vidcasts look really good

The Washington Post, a publication I really respect for its liberal implementations of cross-platform media, has started video podcasting special features it produces. This is huge for the newspaper business.

I just caught Rob Pegogaro's review of the video iPod, which is really cool. Great production quality - someone took care to shoot and edit the piece. (Heads-up, TV affiliates who are just rehashing broadcasts as MP4s in an RSS feed.)

Princeton is also doing vidcasts of its university journal, following in Stanford's footsteps.

Yes, dammit...I am authorized to work in the U.S.

One thing I enjoy about Google shaking up the IT world is the residual hiring frenzy its caused. I've been getting hit up a lot the past month by headhunters and corporate recruiters for various positions at some tech companies. I can tell things must be getting better (or more desperate) if they see from my resume that I'm from Guam and they still come after me.

But the one thing that gets me is how HR staffers or hiring managers never take into consideration that (1) Guam is a U.S. territory, and (2) we're not in the same time zones as the mainland. I've taken several 3am calls recently from prospective employers wanting to talk. They always get embarrassed for calling at such an odd hour, and always say "I've never dealt with anyone from Guam before, but I know it's in the Pacific...".

Also, deferring back to Point #1, people have a tendency to ask me if I'm fluent in English - in mid-conversation and despite the fact that my CV lists me as an American broadcaster. The kicker is also when they ask if I've got the proper visas or if I'm authorized to work in the Continental U.S. It's a running gag with me.

So yes, we out here - in a U.S. territory - enjoy full citizenship. And do keep in mind we're GMT+10.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hail to the Flickr

Andrew Morrell's got an excellent Flickr photostream of Michigan football, notably the Wolverines' last-play victory against Penn State at the Big House. This is professional-grade stuff...he's got a really keen eye for detail and atmosphere. Really good wallpaper-worthy shots.

Good job, Andrew! Keep it up!

Apple software on Windows: oy, my aching PC...

I've been using more Apple software lately to setup our media files populating our vidcasts. Geez, the resource demands on those things is intense. Makes me almost want to buy a Mac (which I guess is the hook-line-sinker point). Alas, I have but yet 768MB of RAM on my 1.5GHz Windows XP Pro box at home. And that's a tad faster than the machines I use here at Camp Happy (work). And I still can't get Apple apps to fly.

I'm testing the time spent exporting a night's newscast in Quicktime 7 Pro for Windows, which I bought for $29.95, which takes insanely long on my Win2K Pro box in my office. I played with a 30-second commercial and 85 minutes later, I had an MP4. That won't work with hour-long shows. I've also used ImTOO's MPEG Encoder, which works great in Win32 environments and is a helluva lot faster with comparable quality. And unlike QT7, imports WMVs.

That might, as Jon Lovitz would say, be the ticket.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Linksys homepage display Red Hat test page???

A friend and I were surfing and found that Linksys' main page curiously loaded the default Red Hat Linux Apache page loaded (check out the URL in the image).


Philadelphia Daily News makes cry for survival

FINALLY. Someone in print realizes that the medium itself is flawed and needs to change. Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News wisely recognizes that high-tech concepts need to be used to deliver news or else the newspaper business will fall:

"We must be the message, not the medium, and so we must adjust to give consumers news in the high-tech ways that they are asking for, not the old-tech way that we are confortable with. If we don’t change, we will die – and it will be our fault. It defies all the conventional wisdom, but I believe that the Philadelphia Daily News can be an agent of that change – and not a victim. ..."

This is exactly the "change the platform, not the profession" concept I've been preaching for months, directly related to the inherent weakness of the print medium. It's a fact: you can only integrate a legacy platform in so many ways and for so long before it reaches its limits, not being able to cope with the new opportunities or complexities of a newer structure.

And that's where obsolescence kicks in.

TypePad now supports video blogging

Not to be outdone by Google's Blogger weblogging creation/hosting service, which lets you post to a blog from the web, a mobile device, e-mail and Microsoft Word, TypePad is supporting video publishing within its platform. I figure its only a matter of time (weeks, I'd project) before Google provides similar functionality, which is neat. Can't wait for vidcasts to really take off.

Safari's internal RSS reader is too cool

A stupid booting error on my Windows XP Pro box in which the OS won't load past the post-POST screen forced me to use a Mac OS X machine (I'm blogging on this now). I was messing with Safari, and noticed the 'RSS' link at the end of web pages that have such feeds referenced in their META tags. I clicked on it and noticed the FEED:// page layout (assumedly if a feed doesn't bind to an XSLT process) and the cool features, especially the ability to use a slide control to decrease/increase the length of an artricle. Absolutely amazing.

We have NOTHING like this in the Windows world (at least not with MSIE), but expect it in Vista. The only thing that comes close is Feedburner's default HTML layout, or the default page formatting applied for Blogger's Atom feeds, like mine. It apparently works for feeds that have the FEED nomenclature, as well as raw RSS 2.0 feeds.

And the screen captures are really neat. This is so much easier than the Win32 "Print Screen and copy into Microsoft Paint" gimmick I've used for years.

This is beyond cool.

APIs for marketers/journalists

Here's a novel concept: Web 2.0-ish public APIs for journalism shops and marketing agencies. I doubt it'll happen with any significant affiliates or networks, but good thinking, Steve.

Comedy Central announces new broadband channel

OK, now I realize that my announcement of my station's forthcoming broadband content delivery service (exclusive & personalized audio/video podcasts, streaming, imagery, etc.), but Comedy Central also announced its own service, Motherload. And Disney said they're doing more multimedia content delivery. Sounds pretty sweet - along the same line as MTV Overdrive.

If my PR forays are to be trumped by anyone, I'm glad it's Comedy Central. Or VH1.

If you're going to do an audio news podcast, don't use TV talk

I was listening to one of the MP3s off of WLS-TV ABC7 Chicago's hybrid mixed media news podcast, and while I appreciated the initiative of getting involved with new media, I can't say I was that impressed. It was an audio version of the televised show, which didn't make for seamless translation. Phrases the anchors used like "The imagery you see here...", and "As you can see..." referencing visualizations obviously don't work for a medium where you can only listen. Any audience would see the lethargy in production quality of this service.

My intent isn't to rip on a fellow news affiliate, much less one in a market much larger and significant than my own (Guam). Rather my point is to bring to light a growing problem from newspapers and broadcast stations that are adopting new media like podcasts, blogging, wikis, etc. If you're going to do something, do it right - and don't try and force square pegs to fit, because they never do. Either produce a new show catering to a specific medium, or write scripts in more platform-agnostic fashion.

My station has TV newscasts, which we stream (and soon will be vidcasting/vodcasting as part of my brodcast strategy) and then we also produce audio podcast versions, which are written more radio friendly to avoid such awkward translation mistakes. It's a lot more work, and has caused us to bend and flex in directions we didn't initially intend - but isn't that the point? Tech will do that to you. combines the best of both worlds - producing original audio content for its podcasts, as well as time-shifting ESPN Radio programming like "The Dan Patrick Show" and audio tracks to TV segments like "Cold Pizza's 1st and 10".

Overall, I really enjoyed WLS-TV's work and remain subscribed to their RSS feed. It's just little things like this get to me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

TomTom coming out strong

A few months ago I found out that the TomTom car GPS navigation device includes roadmaps for my hometown of Guam. I've seen the TV ads on SportsCenter this week, and it looks like the company's gearing up for a big international rollout.

I'm saving up for the day when we here in TechnicalNeverNeverLand (where tech never grows up) can use DVRs. That probably won't happen anytime in the next 4 years, so I'm going to try watching L.A. affiliate programming on my home PC via a SlingBox at a friend's house. It'll be a trip to catch "Grey's Anatomy" when it actually airs, not two weeks tape delayed.

iPod owners more likely to be influential with tech

A curious study cites that iPod owners are among those most likely to consume and spread consumer-generated media (blogs, vidcasts, SMS, DVR). Tech breeds tech.

FoxxyNews: butt-naked vidcasting

Alright, who picked my brain?

OK, it's non-nude, but the women are hot. Perhaps in tribute to Canada's well-known Naked News (or not to be outdone by it), FoxxyNews offers gorgeous women, including several Playboy Playmates, delivering fake news over video podcasts. 'Nuff said. I'm sold.

Should citizen journalists have full media access & rights? Nope.

Here's the discussion topic of the week for people in my line of work. A recent inqiury by Pete Prodoehl, a videoblogger, asks the question if citizen journalists should have the same rights and priviliges as mainstream media photogs, video journalists, reporters, etc. That's a very compelling argument.

I'm about as big a proponent of participatory journalism while being in the mainstream as you'll find. I fully support empowering citizens to make their voices heard, and liberating the distribution of their thoughts. This tears down the dominance those of us in the mainstream information business have had over those not in it for decades. But in this case, I'd favor time-tested structure over potential anarchy. Non-MSM types shouldn't be granted press passes, credentials or be allowed to attend most official press conferences. I'm not proud of it, either.

For someone to just show up at a news event and say, "Hey, I'm going to cover this for my blog,", or "I'll be podcasting this event", isn't enough. This is one of the few instances where I'd say the professional training outweighs honest zest for being part of the process of the documentation of human experience. That doesn't make hobbyist or new media types any less passionate about their craft - or any worse at it than MSM reporters - just less accountable. And that's key.

I don't doubt that a blogger who showed up at a press conference would ask any illogical or unresearched questions, or conduct herself in a manner any less formal than me, a professional reporter. I'm just leery about making events that may be public domain open to be covered by any goofball with a cameraphone. Since the President of the United States is a public servant, should anyone wanting to ask him a question at a press event be allowed? Of course not.

If that does prove to be the case and enough people in significant decision-making capacities are in favor of it, sign me up - I'd love to take my cell phone inside the press room at the NBA Finals and create an ad hoc report. And I know at least 100 other people who would be willing, too. See what I mean? There needs to be a managable system of control over who's allowed and who's not. Anything less increases the potential for chaos.

Citizen journalists by their lack of association with an official source lack the breadcrumbs that we in the mainstream have. It's good old fashioned organizational CYA (cover your ass) in full effect. I've said for years that the true power of the the almighty press credential isn't where it can get me's what it can get me out of. Such priviliges makesmy colleagues and I accountable in the event we screw something up, giving the person(s) or organization(s) being covered a source to take action against should we get something wrong. If I offend or misquote and interviewee, or get a story on someone completely wrong, the person has the full right to call my company, chew out my boss, ans demand my termination for being such an idiot. DIY'ers are exempt of such "luxuries".

And that's the delicate balance mass media manages with the people we write about, shoot on video, and capture in images. MSM diehards would argue, complain and make a stink about why their precious press passes separate them from the average citizen, and how they had to go to college for years to learn the craft, and then cut their teeth as an intern before finally "making it". But that's not the real problem. It's not the practice of journalism that's the issue - it's the audience. The masses aren't ready for such empowerment. And it's sad.

...and the Heisman invites go to...

After recapping who I had as this year's preseason Heisman hopefuls, I'm making up my own list of five players to invite to NYC for the Heisman Trophy presentation this year as finalists.
I've still yet to see a performance that can mirror Bush's countless jaw-dropping runs, screens, or kickoff/punt returns this season. He's amazing. Every few years we get to see a player that every time he touches the ball, something special happens and the highlight blubs start a-poppin'. Think Eric Crouch. Think Charles Woodson.

It's going to be incredibly close between Bush and Young. Stanton caught my eye early and is a heckuva athlete, Quinn's turning heads, and Basanez is laughing all the way to the Big Ten title.

Should iTunes act as RSS blogreader?

I was thinking that Apple might want to add blog-reading features into iTunes, so that people could download audio podcasts, video podcasts, and read their subscribed journals all from a single application. This may not be such a good idea with web-based tools being preferred, and would be a really top-heavy way of reading simple text, but it's a thought.

Despite criticism of iTunes' RSS parsing capabilities (or lack thereof), it would make for consolidated information consumption. And, it would put less pressure on content creators to develop and maintain seperate RSS feeds for essentially information that should be hybrid within the same channel.

How USC could remain undefeated and wind up #3

Stupid BCS.

As a computer science guy, one thing I've always had against artificial intelligence is the constant hurdle we face when trying to replicate human thinking on a machine. Logic is easy, but common sense is nearly impossible to express digitally. All the theoretical mathematics in the world coupled with the most brilliantly written software can't replace human rationale. That having been said, can you believe that USC was booted out of the #1 ranking by Texas, thanks to some algorithmic process by the Bowl Championship Series?

I can, and I predicted it. And I'm not saying I like it.

So relying on good 'ol fashioned gray matter, I'd like to postulate how the still-undefeated USC - the two-time defending national champions - might wind up at the end of the season without a loss, and tragically ranked as the third-best team in the country.

USC's remaining schedule is pretty soft. They spent so much time on the road during the season's first half that they're only two remaining away games are at Stanford and at California, and only the latter of which will be even remotely competitive. So they lose out on strength of schedule, putting pressure on them to blow people out big time, because USC can't exactly tout a huge roster of Spurrier-esque 50-point annihilations. They rocked Hawaii and Rice, but haven't been dominant against the rest of the PAC-10, or Notre Dame. Except for USC, the PAC-10 hasn't been a nationally-intimidating conference in years. Pete Carroll's only real legitimate challenge is in the season finale at home against UCLA, who looks good. So there's a little bit of hope, but it doesn't bode well for the Trojans.

Texas has a moderately smooth ride to Pasadena. Their biggest opponets now lie in rubble behind them, having taken out Ohio State and Texas Tech, so they're looking ahead to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State (they don't play Nebraska this year). Mack Brown's Longhorns have their early season blowouts of non-conference and Big XII teams like going for them, so look for them to be #1 if they win out. However, consider the x-factor: the Big XII championship game has displayed a tendency to wreck a team's chances in the BCS poll in recent history. They'll probably face Missouri or Colorado, both of which are good, but will be summarily dispatched. So if all goes according to plan, count on the BCS favoring UT. And here's where it gets interesting.

#3 Virginia Tech, in terms of strength of schedule, has its work cut out for it - and has the most to gain. Should Frank Beamer run the table and finish the season with an unblemished record, the Hokies would have beaten Boston College and Miami - both assumedly ranked in the top 15 at the time they lock-up, and both of whom they play in Blacksburg. I'm also projecting a VT/Florida State ACC championship, to be held at a neutral site, which should make for a great game any way you slice it. VT started the season by obliterating the opposition by an average of 30 points (including a pair of 45-0 shutouts of Duke and Ohio). The only ranked opponent they beat was Georgia Tech (at the time #15), who they handled 51-7. So while they took care of business against lesser teams early, they'll step it up against ranked opponents later on in the season, which the BCS also factors. Were it not for Vince Young in Austin, we'd all be talking about Marcus Vick.

So even though 99.9997% of America's sportswriters (myself included) would have the Trojans face the Longhorns in the Rose Bowl, the BCS, based on its programming model considering schedule strength and margin of victory, may likely rank Texas #1, followed by Virginia Tech and then USC. This would mean, if we did truly have a 1 vs. 2 national championship game - which was the whole damn point of the BCS' inception anyway - we'd see Hokies and 'Horns.

It'll still make for a great game...albeit not the one many of us want to see.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Workaround for using .WMVs in Feedburner RSS feed

I've been messing with iTunes 6.0 and generating an integrated RSS feed, mixing textual blog post content with audio podcasts, with video podcasts/vidcasts/vodcasts/vlogs/whatever. One particular brick wall that I kept running into was iTunes not seeing any WMV files I was listing as legitimate items (surprise, surprise). Apparently Feedburner has this problem, too.

Here's a great workaround to get your Windows Video recognized in Feedburner.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Articles of interest today

I read at least 200 full-length articles per day and try and print out the best ones in terms ifo interesting topic, presentation of material, and writing style. Three really neat pieces really stood out from the blogosphere through Google Reader today:

Will vidcasting be the death of streaming?

I'm thinking more about the impact that vidcasting (aka, video podcasting) is going to have on existing content delivery strategies now that some mainstream sources are using it creatively. Specifically, I'm pondering the effect its going to have on streaming technology. I'm realistically envisioning my own company's use of streaming being phased out for the most part by higher-quality, feature-rich, notification-based vidcasts, except for times when we need to do live streaming.

There's also PSPcasting - delivering high-res video to Sony's Playstation Portable. Same concept, different device. Tragically, although it does go beyond the iPod family in being an Internet appliance, an RSS-based subscription model hasn't been worked out just yet, with a couple of hacks implemented loosely.

Podcasts, either of the audio or video variety, remain pre-produced exhibits and unable to be broadcast live and requiring time to properly set up. And with Video iPods and the legion of knockoffs they'll give rise to at the moment not being Internet-aware devices, we can't send streaming content to them. We're still relegated to physically transferring files between a PC/notebook and a storage device. So there remains a strong market for timeliness over quality.

Time-shifting and place-shifting is catching on rapidly, but mobility's already made its mark as the big consumer convinience with the masses. It's easier to explain that you can take a newscast or radio show with you to the gym or in the car rather than trying to explain podcasting to someone with the "it's like Tivo for radio..." analogy.

So we'll likely continue to expand on our broadband plans, incorporating vidcasting for iTunes users and RSS enthusiasts, weening the daily downloaders to that more feature-rich platform; and also use streaming on the desktop to cover live and breaking events, and wirelessly for Java-enabled phones.

Greasemonkey for Google Reader enables scroll wheel

Hans Schmucker wrote this cool little script that adds mousewheel support to Google Reader. Nice "J" and "K" keys thank you.

Some ABC affiliates start iTunes video podcasting

Looks like I've got some slight tweaking to do with my plans for developing my station's broadband channel service. Steve Rubel notes that a handful of ABC affiliates in major markets have started vidcasting their stories, headlines and newscasts and listing them as free MP4 downloads in the iTunes Music Store. This is an interesting shift, because most affiliate stations (mine included) typically have had such content available as streaming video, which can't be saved to a PC's filesystem, and doesn't have the subscribe/notify/auto-download benefits of RSS-based podcasting.

Many do this because the read-only nature of streaming technology prohibits such downloadingof permanent hard copies of the cast, keeping intact the profits generated by selling copies of broadcasts. Maybe this will calm the waters of ABC affiliates freaking out over network TV shows being available in ITMS.

I was thinking about doing this with our newscasts, perhaps creating an enhanced podcast for video, implementing Apple's proprietary RSS tagset to do things like chapterizing and embedding time-synched hyperlinks within iTunes. This would allow a user to be able to move to a specific story within a newscast, and jump to that story's written article on the Web, respectively.

Porn invades Video iPod

Hearing the news about blue content on the Video iPod didn't shock me. When pondering the true potential impact of a new platform, I often think about how adult entertainment will make use of it. I've done this for podcasting, Ajax programming, content delivery via PSP, and several other types of information. Constantly high demand, easy platform translation and easy distribution make the dark arts the perfect litmus test about how data can be produced, distributed and consumed through emerging multimedia platforms.

Quite often many new formats are embraced and exploited to the fullest by companies out of the San Fernando Valley, giving them real-world legitimacy. Adam Curry projects the translation of adult material as a driving force for video podcasting. I even predicted that porn star podcasting would be a killer app within time-shifted digital audio distributed via RSS (which surprisingly, no one's capitalized on yet).

The same categories of data - porn, religion and business - are going to drive portable video (and multimedia in general) as they did for podcasting, like with directory services like Podcast Alley.

Stanford launches iTunes support for university services

Now this is truly cool. In yet another shining example why kids should study their butts off and get into a good college, Stanford (my first choice for a college at which to pursue my Ph.D if I had the money) has announced a customized view within iTunes to access various digital audio content for students and alumni through the iTunes Music Store. "Stanford on iTunes" is basically a pilot project for audio coursework in 2006, should it prove successful.

Stanford on iTunes will provide alumni—as well as the general public—with a new and versatile way of staying connected to the university through downloads of faculty lectures, campus events, performances, book readings, music recorded by Stanford students and even podcasts of Stanford football games.

At launch, the service will contain close to 400 distinct audio programs, and the university will continue to add new content as it becomes available.

Given that description, it's going to be a hell of a recruiting gimmick. Digitized audio, whether distributed as standalone MP3s or subscribable podcasts, is going to have the immediacy, cost-efficiency and survivability for new student orientation and campus tours what PDFs did for college catalogs and HTML did for course schedules.

My dad's been integrating multimedia and Internet products into his lectures at the University of Guam, but in so doing noticed how students are skipping class and just downloading PowerPoint slide decks, visiting his blog and accessing MP3s. I told him it's a matter of proper course design, that the total media experience would provide a full view of the topic at hand, not an alternative to a classroom lecture.

Video iPods enjoy 50% profit margin / Nanos scratch easy

You've gotta love the PR Continuum. BusinessWeek projects that the latest iPods have a profit margin of around 50%. The 30-gigabyte version of the new iPod, which sells at retail for $299, costs Apple $151 to manufacture. The article cites this as a fat margin, generally consistent with the rest of the iPod line, as is the iPod Nano.

This is good news, seeing as how complaints are being lobbed at Apple for the easily-scratchable Nano.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Top 10 blog design mistakes

There's a really interesting list dealing with politically correct webblog design tactics that most people are probably going to flock to, bookmark, print, and worship as if it were gospel, primarily because it's the product of Jakob Nielsen, the father of modern usability. This will likely lead many a developer/designer and manager to emphatically call for meetings to immediately bring about a dramatic change in their weblog's aesthetics, as if to appease Nielsen's manifesto.

What's interesting is that many of the principles laid out aren't that much different from those taught in any entry-level web design, web marketing or usability course. Things like not having your own unique domain, poor chronological navigation, illogically-arranged content - they all apply to web publishing, blog-based or not. It's funny to see people get all jazzed about time-tested concepts they should be adhering to anyway.

The only point that really stands out to me is Mistake #9 - "Fogetting that You Write for Your Future Boss" speaks to the editorial nature of blogs. That's a keeper.

Samsung's new Bluetooth headphones

I talked in a previous podcast about how I'd pimped my ride (in a manner of speaking) by mounting my cell phone in a Belkin TuneDock Carholder for my iPod Mini, and tuning into live TV programming wirelessly through MobiTV, mainly FoxSports. I mentioned that since I do this while I'm driving, it's obviously dangerous to try and watch TV simultaneously, so I listen to the broadcast through my Bluetooth headset. It works...kinda.

These new Bluetooth headphones by Samsung look pretty neat, and would surely provide better sound.

Platform-agnostic list of Ajax frameworks

Michael Mahemoff put up a wonderful list of the major Ajax frameworks available for all major platforms (.NET, Java, Python), and those written in pure JavaScript:

Jobs: There's No Market for Portable Video

Apple head Steve Jobs has some interesting comments in a recent Time article regarding the future of portable digital video. 'There is no market today for portable video,' said Jobs. 'We’re going to sell millions of these to people who want to play their music, and video is going to come along for the ride.' "

I can see how Jobs might make such an is the ultinate trump to audio, like audio is to the printed page, so by fully getting behind moving pictures, he's ostracize the base media upon which the iPod was built. Still, this came as a surprise to me, how he would seemingly neglect video's mobile potential.

The real threat behind Web 2.0 and the Network Computer

The Web 2.0 concept, open models, both still arguably embryonic in a lot of ways (the former much more than the latter) and are serving to be as threatening to platform vendors as they are liberating to end users. But the real reason this has OS vendors like Microsoft shaking in their boots? It empowers me, the consumer, with the ability to change computers at any time.

I can quickly ditch my Windows XP Professional PC for a new Mac Powerbook and not lose a beat. As long as I'm in range of a decent WiFi connection (and support soon for WiMAX, mesh networks and smart radios), I'd just need to sign-in to my various web-based services and I'm back in business. Instant synchronicity and no time lost doing installation/setup/configuration of a slew of applications to bring me back up to speed. I launch a web browser, visit my services, maybe set some cookies, and it's like I never left.

Because I never did.

On the contrary, NewsForge wisely cites three reasons against the practice of Internet-based applications, all rooted in ill-serving ISPs and the fickleness of infrastructure, both in regional networks, and in the Internet itself.

Video podcasting projected to be next dominant delivery platform

In-Stat projects that within 5 years video podcasts will dominate as a leading content delivery mechanism. The company foresees that by 2009, non-adult video content delivered as subscription or pay-per-download over the Internet will constitute a $2.9 billion market.

"The video desires of most consumers will continue to be served by free-to-air broadcast TV, and by pay TV services like Cable TV and Satellite...but a thriving premium video market will develop over the Internet. Really Simple Syndication (RSS), audio podcasting, and upcoming video podcasting initiatives will certainly drive demand for lots more video on the Internet. Apple's announcement that brings ABC's Desperate Housewives onto Apple's iTunes service marks a major turning point for video over the Internet.'"

It's evolution, dammit! Google Print needs to happen

One of the things that frustrates me most about certain aspects of people in media is how naive they can be towards the progress of the practice. I've blogged until my fingers started cramping and given lectures and speeches until I'm hoarse about how newspapers are a dying medium. The whole Google Print debacle and the opposition against Google's idea of digitizing mass amounts of printed works for the sake of making their content indexed and web-accessible just ticks me off.

Having studied intellectual property, I can see how not having the explicit permissions from all involved in the authoring, publication and distribution complicates the matter. But as a technologist, this has to be done.

The company plans to restart the scanning of in-copyright books on Nov. 1, according to Alexander Macgillivray, Google senior product and intellectual property counsel.

Google’s aim for Print is to make searchable the full text of as many of the world’s books as possible with the library portion of the project involving the scanning of books from five facilities — the University of Michigan, Harvard University, Stanford University, The New York Public Library and Oxford University. The arrangement with each library differs, with Michigan offering the entirety of its library, while both the New York Public Library and Oxford University are only making public domain library books available to Google for scanning, according to Macgillivray.

The archival benefits alone mandate that great (and not so great) works of literature, reference and entertainment be replicated in a more survivable format than the printed page. That Yahoo! would announce soon after the initial complaint was filed against Google that they'd be doing essentially the same thing just shows it's inevtiable. Everyone predicted this chain of events happening, and it all got started with the advent of the e-book.

Could print diehards be holding onto their platform, out of fear that the world's libraries will become ghost towns if everything one day is available via the Web? Perhaps. Is this a legal issue that'll be stuck in litigiation for insane amounts of time? Likely. Is this an argument that needs to be quashed so that progress can take place?


Media bias towards Apple?

Slashdot considers an interesting argument, noting John C. Dvorak's theory that mainstream media writers lean towards favoring Apple's products, services and announcements since most of the industry uses Macs. (Gosh, how I loathe QuarkExpress...) In certain industries like architecture, education, music and certain engineering disciplines Macs remain dominant to the point where they're seen as standard issue.

Perhaps MSM is being sympathetic, not wanting to bite the hand that ultimately feeds them? Or at least provides the base facilities to get their work done? Is said bias due to just an unfamiliarity with any rival platforms? The way I see it as a MSM journalist, anyone's fair game - I do my job without passion or prejudice in the hopes of preserving the objectivity we're all supposed to subscribe to. As a blogger, anyone's an open target for a flaming arrow.

I'll admit that I've become less and less "Rah, Rah Microsoft" over the last year, having dabbled in other product lines and tracked other companies.

PSP on TV possible, how about iPod video on TV?

PSP on TV allows you to view PSP content...on your TV, and for around $100 that's a very cool solution to getting miniturized content on a larger display. I'm hoping someone out there is working on a CATV/S-Video adapter for the video-capable iPod so we can shoot content out (I'm not sure how clear this will be, as the default screen size for the iPods is 320 x 240.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Bulk purchases in iTunes Music Store

I finally upgraded my home PC to iTunes 6.0, and have been playing around with the video-friendly iTunes Music Store. I was really happy to see that episodes of "Lost" (and I assume other such TV programs) are available as individual current downloads for $1.99, and also in bulk. I can nab the first 4 episodes of Season 2, as well as all 25 episodes of Season 1 for a measly $34.99, which is a big discount (30%) off what would have been the cost-per price of $49.75. That's a sweet deal.

(I wonder how long the download would be for that the entire season.)

I'm still in favor of a proactive subscription-based model, but I'm liking what I'm seeing so far.

I'd like to see Google compete with Monster

I was called this morning by a recruiter from Volt Technical Services who wants to bring me on for a yearlong contract with Microsoft. She said she got my CV off of my site through Google, not the Monster or other services I use. That got me thinking: I'd like to see Google get into the resume creation/storage/indexing/referral business.

Why the hell not? They'd be indexed a heckuva lot quicker with Google's search technology. Think of it as Froogle for job seekers and listers. Why not?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Easter egg in "Point Break"

Damn, I wish the Internet Movie Database was a wiki so I could add something. I found a hilarious Easter egg (aka, a goof) in one of my favorite movies.

So tonight I'm channel surfing while eating dinner tonight and AMC's got 1991's "Point Break" on, which I haven't seen in about six years. A great movie, and I truly believe a flick that the original "The Fast and the Furious" ripped off nearly completely. Apparently, I'm not the only one.

Anyway, I'm watching the scene where Keanu Reeves' straight-arrow FBI character comes to the relevation that Patrick Swayze's philosophical surfer-and-bad guy character is the criminal mastermind behind the Ex-Presidents. Reeves looks Gary Busey straight in the eye and, describing the enlightened naturalist, says "...he has lunch at Patrick's Road House." (Obviously a tongue-in-cheek reference to Swayze's 1989 film with Kelly Lynch.)

It's not on the movie's IMDB goofs page either. But here's an excerpt of the screenplay:

... so I started tailing him.

This Zen master surfer.

Bodhi, yeah. I'm on him all day,
right. He goes here, he goes there,
he goes to Tower Records and buys
come CDs, he has lunch at Patrick's
Road House...

Top 40 magazine covers of the last 40 years

I found a piece by on the top 40 magazine covers since 1965 quite interesting. What sucks is that at least in the web version only the top 5 covers have graphical representation accompanying their text-based mention. So if you weren't there, you're either none the wiser or you've got quite a night of Googling ahead of you.

I found even more compelling the fact that the most recent cover appearing was 2004's Vogue with Nicole Kidman (the Dixie Chicks' nude political statement on Entertainment Weekly was the sole entry from 2003). Maybe such a trend is indicative of people moving away from print?

At any rate and before I start getting political myself, it's a good collection and makes for better coffee table fodder than many of the publications referenced within.

TiVo-to-iPod hack

I'm finally updating my iTunes from 4.0 to 6.0 (I never did the 4.9 podcast version on any of my own PCs) to peruse the available video, speficially the TV programming. While I hit Apple's servers, I'm reading Dave Zatz's excellent hack that transfers Tivo'ed video content onto the new video-capable iPods.

My dad's already downloaded a gang of videos that he's watched just for the sake of watching them.

Journalism's future: maintain the profession, replace the platform

Change is good. Previously I blogged about my thoughts on the future of the print and broadcast industries, and have since gotten feedback wondering about my stance on how current mainstream media (MSM) holds up against emerging technologies and new media applications. It's strange, people seem to think, that a guy in traditional news media would be so passionate in decrying the doom of the very industry paying his salary.

Yeah, I get that a lot.

Rob from Podcast 411 interviewed me and said afterward that I'm the first MSM person he's met that supports - much less professionally acknowledges - new media products as legitimate communications platforms. This blew me away. The wayI see it, I've got to embrace applications affecting my company's core competency, lest they become the source of my annihilation.

I realize not all my colleagues know of new platforms on which to market their wares (and fewer are the number that endorse them), and this is where the greatest tragedy lies, I think. People often naively think I've got a bone to pick with the newspaper industry and that like many in the TV/radio/web industry, I take potshots at what I view as an inferior platform. Not true.

I have a great deal of respect, admiration and love for great journalism. I continue to read, watch and listen to great works. We're always going to depend on the savvy reporting skills of trained professionals, we'll continue to rely on the polemicality of editorialist who writes intentionally to incite emotion, and we'll always demand the thoughts and insight of the world's truly great thinkers. I loathe not the people that drive the amazing content that makes up the world's information, but the shortcomings of the platforms on which it's distributed. The only exception I take are MSM hard-asses who are too blindly loyal to their base media to try anything new.

Someday TV will become passe, too. Print's been dying for years, radio's already in the toilet and the tube is next on the chopping block. So do the right thing and continue to support the efforts of journalism, but likewise encourage the evolution of new ways to compose, distribute, share and refine information.

I've got a ton of reading this week

In addition to the fiction and Python programming tutorial I've poring over this week, I just got a book order from Apress and Murach, the latter of which I've been very eager to check out. So heading into a weekend filled with postseason baseball and midseason football sportswriting, and Sunday night TV, here's my reading list:
The Murach titles look to make very good classroom companions, being oversized with big illustrations and lots of code examples. The Apress books are HUGE. Each is like 1,200 pages each, and after transporting all 4 from our receptionist desk to my office, I won't need to go to the gym. Which works out fine for me, seeing as how they'll keep me quite busy over the next week or so.

Reviews forthcoming...

CBS to list podcasts in iTunes

I got word today thaty CBS is going to be listing its podcasts in the iTunes Podcast Directory. Good word. I've been a big proponent of all the major networks offerring their programming in iTunes, not just ABC. Let's hope this eventually transitions to TV programming in the iTunes Music Store, too...putting pressure on everyone else.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Is Manningham Michigan's next "#1" receiver?

Sometimes, not retiring a college football jersey means even more to the people who wore it.

I'm marvelling at the stellar frosh campaign of Michigan wideout Mario Manningham, who has made a bunch of big plays for the maize & blue already, but none bigger than hauling in a touchdown against undefeated, 9th-ranked Penn State in the Big House last Saturday. He wears #86, the same number worn by Tai Streets, but my big thing now is if he stays in school, will he get the privilige of wearing the coveted #1?

Some think he's nailed it now. Biletnikoff Award winner Braylon Edwards had to earn the most valuable jersey in the Wolverine's locker room, waiting until his junior year. Now that #1 is firmly established as the premiere jersey for receivers in Ann Arbor, it's seen as a number that's granted - not selected. Anthony Carter, David Terrell, Derrick Alexander and Edwards all set the bar really high. So the honor is one that's got to be time-tested and well-deserved. To give Super Mario the shirt anytime before next year would be unjust to the tradition.

But sure, not only top wideouts get the honor. Desmond Howard won the Heisman with #21, and Streets, Marquise Walker, Mercury Hayes and Amani Toomer all had great success with other digits.

So could Manningham be the next exalted wideout? He's certainly on his way, #1 or not. Let's hope he eventually gets the blessing from Lloyd Carr, but let's do it the right way and give it some time.

A very Web 1.0/MSM attitude: stop having an opinion

I laughed when some colleagues of mine jokingly said, "I'm going to stop forwarding you articles, press releases and telling you blog about it 2 minutes later." The notion that I would need to curb my opinions, or more importantly, documenting and distributing them over electronic media, is funny. This is exactly the reaction I got from technical circles I got when I became a reporter years ago, first covering the local tech beat. Contacts I had with companies were tentative to rap with me, fearing it'd wind up as the top story of our newscast.

This is a very Web 1.0/mainstream media mindset, that while comical in this instance, is a growing problem for organizations. Companies should positively adopt both schools of thought - embracing an energy to blog, podcast, create wiki entries, stream, and generally create, share and contribute to information channels openly. But, you should also temper your enthusiasm for commenting on every single thought entering your mind.

New age communications, as we're coming to see, if best if used tastefully and sparingly.

Network affiliates sweat over iTunes TV deal

RBR/TVBR Media Mix writes, "Disney/ABC may be embracing new media with last week's deal to sell video downloads for Apple computer’s new video iPods, but ABC affiliates are upset. They don’t get a financial stake in the downloads of ABC shows and weren’t even given a heads up about the deal." TV Week also relays similar disdain from local stations. My take? Screw the affiliates.

And that's completely hypocritical on my part because I work for such an affiliate, operating channels for NBC and CBS (neither involved in the iTunes agreement). But my stance is also justifiable: my employer's one of those left on the outside looking in, not being able to realize sales revenue from downloads, or perhaps insert their own localized advertisements. Affiliates shouldn't be able to get a cut of the profits generated by downloads (or hopefully in the future, subscriptions) from the iTunes Music Store. That's something solely between the networks - who own the intellectual property to the shows - and Apple. Trying to petition to milk a little more out of an association with a network is outside the scope of an affiliate relationship. And a little desperate.

Apple/ABC intentionally didn't inform the little guy because they knew a leak would have been inevitable, ruining the shock value of a really cool distribution model. I predict this is going to have a tidal wave effect on broadcasting, and I'm hoping more networks list their shows as a means of propagating digital distribution of traditionally televised content. It's bringing time-shifting to network TV programming, sans DVR.

Sure, I'm concerned that the migratory pattern of all mainstream media is to move towards digital platforms, distirbuted over the Internet. I realize this changes and in many aspects limits how I'll be able to serve my audiences going down the road. But I'm also cognizant of the significance of the precedence that'll ultimately be set by Apple's strategy for the future of content delivery; and that despite getting TV programming via ITMS earns a stratospheric rating on my personal Cool-O-Meter, it's not that significant to hurt mainstream broadcasting. At least not yet.

And both are too important to be stymied by petty bitching.

What's the deal with delivery to Hotmail/MSN???

Being the largest online news source in the Western Pacific, we've got a pretty sizable distribution list for our daily e-mail news headlines. I was concerned this morning when I noticed that delivery of last night's newsletter failed delivery to everyone with a Hotmail and MSN e-mail address.

I tried checking the usual sources for info on this, but nothing yet. Hopefully, it works itself out.

...And justice for all: MLB's need for instant replay

One topic that'e being hammered on since the A.J. Pierzynski incident in Game 2 of the ALCS in Chicago is the possibility of developing and introducing football-style instant replay into Major League Baseball. While the number of arguments why this would be bad are legion, the single pro is undisputable: enabling officials to consult footage and an impartial review team would make for better results.

My suggestion would be for MLB to develop a "challenge rule" not unlike that used in the NFL. Setting a limit on the number of times a manager may challenge an official's call during a game, so as not to excessively elongate the experience, and penalizing a manager's team (i.e., advancing a runner one base, imposing a strike on a batter, imposing an out on a team) for calls they challenge and lose seems only fair and, like football's proven, serves to self-regulate the practice.

But of course, baseball being the big complainfest that it is, people would subdivide history into the "B.I." and "A.I." eras - Before and After Instant Replay. Sportswriters would start creating questionable subfactions of stats pertinent to "the play that should have been" and debate the merits of current and future stats and records based on era. However, do recall that certain rules have made the game better. When Babe Ruth played, a ball bouncing out of the field of play was still considered a homerun, and a significant number of the Bambino's dingers can be credited to this oversight. Now, it's the infamous ground-rule double. And it's been received well.

But in the end, we'd get more accurate results. It's a proven system in football, even if it is the second time around.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Small world: the filmography of Vasquez from "Aliens"

I was jaw-flapping with a pal last night about some of the more memorable bit players in movies. Without doubt, someone who probably doesn't have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (but in my opinion should) is the tough-as-nails, take-no-crap-from-anybody, check-these-one-hand-pullups female heavy machine gunner from Aliens.

I always wondered what happened to Jenette Goldstein, aka Pvt. Vasquez of the Colonial Marines from "Aliens", and more so, what her body of work comprised of. Now that I think about it after snooping her on IMDB, she was the foster mom in Terminator 2, huh? Most people gravitate towards Bill Paxton's wise-cracking Hudson, and Vasquez did die; but in that film, she's the man. Figuratively speaking.

What I'm reading now

There's no more valuable commodity I know of than information. And if some is good, more is better. Staying off cliche's and getting right to the meat of this post, I picked up a couple of books this afternoon, to accompany a few I'm sifting through this week:

Wikipedia loves the Emerald City

Cool item as Wikipedia's cover article today...the entry about Seattle, my favoite U.S. city. I realize this is all randomized, but this was neat to see.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Vote for Bush! USC tailback will run away with 2005 Heisman

In addition to most rosters of 2005 preseason Heisman hopefuls, I made my picks prior to kickoff:
I'd say now, it's a personal stats battle between Bush and Young. Florida's blemish against Alabama hurts Leak, Maroney is a monster but not getting the national attention he deserves, and Jacobs is guity of both sins. Leinart is the man, but Reggie gets the numbers, and Peterson is gearing up for the NFL. Ginn was perhaps the nation's most feared man going into this season and scored in the season opener against Miami of Ohio, but not since.

I had Bush winning last year, and he'll do it this year by a slim margin over Young.

"May" should be a cult classic

Speaking of disturbing movies, if you're the type that likes a well-done piece that's generally got some good acting, without all the in-your-face gore just for shock value, check out 2002's "May". I caught this last year on Cinemax late one night and it's stayed with me ever since.

It's got a lot of eerie fade-to-red segues, some really bizzare music, and between vaguely-told scenes that don't tie in together until the film's climax. It's also got Anna Faris.

But of course, the all-time great movie that leaves you bothered for weeks on end is 1999's "8MM". I don't know anyone who didn't watch that and a couple days later be a little weirded out.

Now I remember who Jeremy Renner is...

While strolling through Blockbuster (my former employer) last night, I had a revelation. Ever since watching S.W.A.T., I was always for some reason bothered by actor Jeremy Renner's character, and I've never been able to figure out why. It wasn't that his was the antagonist, somthing about the guy just left me uneasy.

And then after moving past the horror section last night, I saw it: the DVD box for the 2002 movie "Dahmer", which I'd seen previously and in which Renner chillingly played the title role. That movie naturally left me very, very disturbed. I guess that's a credit to his acting talent.

I'm happy to have finally gotten closure on this.

"X-Men Legends 2" kicks total ass

I took a couple days off from managing my virtual college football season as the Michigan Wolverines. I rented Activision's "X-Men Legends 2: Rise of the Apocalypse" for PS2, which is amazing. It took awhile to start up with all the promos for all the shops involved in producing it - Activision, Raven Software, Vicarious Visions, Beenox Studios, but it's really well done. Even for a hardcore X-Men fan like me.

You can play as a whole host of of classic and newer characters - 16 in total from the X-Men and Brotherhood - like Angel/Archangel, Colossus, Deadpool, Scarlett Witch, Sunfire and Iceman, In addition to the ones you'd expect like Wolverine, Mystique, Nightcrawler and Cyclops.

I enjoyed the vocal talents of Patrick Stewart's "other" famous role as Professor X. And I swear, that's gotta be John Lithgow playing Magneto. And I'd bet serious moolah that one dude who's in all the Adam Sandler movies is the voices for Juggernaut, Gambit, Grizzly and several other characters. I think the guy who voices Beast in the cartoon is also in the game in that role. It's very accurate, unlike the movies (my biggest boner-killer was Colossus not being Russian), and has a really challenging trivia mini-game.

I logged 2.5 hours last night, and I'm only a little into the story. I'm such a video game pansy these days, being years out of practice, that I'm playing 'easy' mode.

Good job on this one! (And "Ultimate Spider-Man" looks really good, too.)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Essential blogging bookmarkets

Steve Rubel's put together a pretty slick list of helpful bookmarklets that no self-respecting blogger should be without. There's everything from tracking links to a current blog page from Bloglines and Technorati to Flickr tag lookups.

Good work, Steve!

I've got a Sony Bluetooth headset on loan

While in the U.S. mainland recently, my dad picked up a Sony DR-BT1 Bluetooth headset to use with his Treo 650. I gave him my rave review of my Motorola HS850 Bluetooth headset I'm using with my Motorola V710 prior to his trip, let him make a couple of calls using it, and he was hooked. The problem is that locally, like so much consumer technology, the prices for PAN devices exceed $150.

So he got his own, but hasn't been too pleased. he asked me to swap for the weekend, and seeing as how he conceived, raised, educated and reared me, I figured it was the leastI could do. He complained of incessant echoing, caused maybe by the Sony's elongated, rubber mic. I'm not crazy about the fact that his headset sits rather awkwardly on my ear, being flimsy. I tend to get really peripatetic when I'm taking on it, constantly walking around and making hand gestures as if I were giving some big technical speech. My Motorola by comparison is much smaller and sits snugly, but not uncomfortably.

I've got no such sound concerns with I use Dad's device with my phone, but there is a deeper sound, such that I've got to max out the volume when I talk. I guess my Father's Day/Christmas shopping's already done.

Dad's Bluetooth headset (left) and mine.

Big Ten outlaws flag-planting

I was bummed to see that the Big Ten banned the practice of flag-planting, assumedly on an opposing team's home field. This is something I've had an opinion on. If you're going to ban something, ban it nation-wide. Granted, the only two Division I schools that we in the masses know of that have done it so far this season are Michigan State at Notre Dame and Minnesota at Michigan - both winners in the Big Ten.

This will only urge other teams to do the same in other conferences. Someone in the SEC will do it in the next few weeks, prompting that conference to ban it. If you're going to do it, petition the NCAA and set the precedent across the country. Implementing such policy individually at the conferencelevel only asks for more trouble.

Better yet, let's make a deal: we'll give the NCAA and the conferences flag-planting, if they'll eliminate excessive celebration. Let a playa play.

iTunes Music Store should adopt subscription for TV programming

I suggested a permanent subscription model when pontificating over the merits of the iTunes Music Store's for-purchase method of ABC network television programming. This can easily be done by applying RSS's proven opt-in format, perfectly marrying the tried-and-true media concepts of print's paid, incentive-based subscription with TV's traditional syndication.

How cool would it be if Apple/ABC/other sources collaborated on a permanent subscription model for network TV content? A consumer would pay a set fee for a certain number of episodes, which would be a certain percentage cheaper than if you bought an entire season's shows individually and got automatic delivery of the content. It's retooling information by applying new media applications to proven concepts, taking a page right out of Sports Illustrated (pun intended), and from blogging/podcasting.

Think about it: assign users a secure account in the iTunes Music Store. They agree to pay $25.37 for a 15-episode season of "Grey's Anatomy" (15% off the cover price of $1.99 per episode). Add an incentive - subscribers exclusively get an extra bonus video of cast interviews, outtakes, etc. - and programmatically subscribe the user's local version of iTunes 6 to an authenticated RSS feed that delivers their shows according to a set schedule (an additional subscriber-only incentive might be they get the video a few hours earlier than its released in the ITMS).

For the consumer this would mean cost-effectiveness, guaranteed delivery, convenience and reliable viewership. And the networks get more money up front, regardless of the quality of their programming, the ratings of their stuff, or whether the end-user actually watches their stuff, or not. It's the perfect application of RSS to paid content.

Operators are standing by, cancel anytime.

Opinions mixed on ABC's ITMS strategy

Opinions are mixed on Disney CEO Bob Iger's announcement to offer commercial-free versions of ABC's "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" for sale in the iTunes Music Store the day after they air on network TV (I'm hoping they'll add "Grey's Anatomy", too!). I think it's a brilliant marketing move, as is ESPN's strategy to stream entire MLB games on mobile devices.

Many in the blogosphere think current tech like DVR, VHS, streaming and P2P provide a suitable solution, generally being cost-free, and with the exception of many P2P networks, legal and in real-time. Such a mentality holds that for-purchase shows just won't make it due to existing tech platforms. Others within the biz say the purchase offering will kill mainstream TV ratings, because people will be willing to miss the aired show for free over cable if they can get it asynchronously time-shifted over ITMS. (I've also come across blog posts stating that said videos can't be paused, rewound, or forwarded...I'm trying to find the links.)

I'm hoping other networks follow suit. Imagine the additional revenue Fox would gain if reality shows like "American Idol" released their season finale in ITMS. The institution has become such a pop culture phenomenon that all the major networks carry coverage of it ad nauseum anyway, so imagine ($1.99/unit * 100,000 units) in additional after-the-fact profits generated by people wanting to relive the big moment. Mark Cuban projects such practice giving rise to a rich new paradigm of content syndication.

And further, think what would happen if Apple/ABC/other sources collaborated on a permanent subscription model, wherein you'd pay a set fee for [X] number of episodes, which would be [Y%] cheaper than if you bought an entire season's shows individually and got automatic delivery of the content. It's retooling information by applying new media applications to proven concepts.

Steve Speicher doesn't think the iTunes model will last and a few people have already noted opposition that ITMS isn't at the moment supporting independent or homemade movies. But Cuban defends the tactic as a stroke of genius and that it will forge a new economy, and I tend to agree. The model works for music and it can work for TV/video. It's simplicity is what makes it effective. But I don't think we should go all-in just yet and start demanding networks to translate their entire programming schedule to ITMS.

I've been asked what would happen if other networks decide to adopt more liberal streaming practices in order to compete. Easy - it's still streaming, and not a hard copy you can carry around with you or not easily port to other platforms. MTV Overdrive, that network's broadband service, can still become more aggressive in releasing its content. It's free, customizable, includes additional goodies, and is supported by ads a user can't skip of fast-forward like many DVRs.

The balance of power in delivering mainstream media content will be preserved in that content people want and are willing to pay for (or just don't know of any other alternative) will be available in paid services like the iTunes Music Store and the others that will undoubtedly pop-up, and free services.

The NES Micro

The guy who created the PS2, N64p and Phoenix 2600 has created his smallest portable game console yet: the NES Micro.

It's a mobile device capable of playing the 16-bit Nintendo titles we all grew up playing and loved so much. I'm waiting to see if someone hacks together one of the old LCD Game-n-Watch units. I ruled at Donkey Kong and Octopus.

User hacks MySpace's friends list with Ajax XSS

Craig Shoemaker from the Polymorphic Podcast clued me into the story of a MySpace user that wrote a cross-site scripting (XSS) process in Ajax, allowing him to add over a million friends to his list. The script was also self-replicating, being inserted into a visiting user's profile. Googler Evan Martin even broke down the particularities of the malicious script.

I've expressed concern about Ajax programming as a threat to security and performance, that XSS worms and DOS attacks might be more prevalent.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Argh! (Mis)use of the term "mashup"

Never mind about the argument over whether we should express Asynchronous JavaScript and XML in writing as "AJAX" or "Ajax". I'm more worried about the rampant misuse of the MP3-ish "mashup", which is supposed to mean the intuitive marriage of two musical tracks, where as "mash-up" is supposed to be Web 2.0-style hybrid application programming.

See my previous comments on erroneously using "mashup", and a good piece on "remixing".

An updated look at the future of newspapers in the Web Age

John Branston of The Memphis Flyer makes a plea to support local newspapers, writing, "Opinions and blogs and summaries of other people's work may be interesting, but they’re not news." Somewhat true, but that's changing. If you define news as the act of (hopefully) objectively recalling an event, or composing a thought and defending an argument for public rebuttal, many bloggers don't fit the mold. But they don't have to - and that's the beauty of new media applications on communication. It's a new take on an old set of rules in need of revision.

John's is a well-written piece, but doesn't consider some of the more in-place technologies propagating information, and appears desperate in its support of an inferior platform that realistically hasn't got that many years left in its current incarnation. This leads me to herein update a previous column I wrote just eight months ago - as a member of the mainstream news media - in which I predicted the newspaper industry's inevitable death due to the increase in popularity of new media services. (The same certainly applies for today's broadcast industry, as well.) This is a theory passionately shared by participatory journalism advocates, and by a growing number of mainstream media types the world over.

In the web-enabled Age of Information, free's the word - free content, free tools for creation and access, free choice, free archival, free retrieval, free opt-in, free opt-out, free customization, free personalization. The newspaper's traditional subscription-based revenue model doesn't keep up, and banner ads can't significantly support a full transition to web-based publishing. The fact that a paper can't diversify by adding rich multimedia to its site, lest people gravitate towards such material and cannibalize the paper's core competency also stifles the platform. Print additionally lacks the immediacy and time-shifted accessibility benefits of blogging and podcasting. A newspaper also can't be customized, unable to tailor itself to the needs, tastes and preferences of the individual.

So they're stuck.

Branston also proposes that "the printed newspaper is morally superior to the computer." Here's a reality check: most people are willing to sacrifice morals if doing so saves them some money. Likewise, being well-principled ultimately takes a back seat to choice, timeliness and speed/frequency of delivery. So let's consider the real argument people have about new media: quality.

Reporting excellence realistically isn't really much of a factor longer is "the media" seen as an exclusive club that puts us in the business in some elite class above the average citizen, privvy to control the flow of information, the world's most valuable commodity. I know hobbyist bloggers who can run rings around professional reporters in terms of being able to ask the right questions, being well-connected, maintaining a captive audience, properly using humor, telling a compelling story and writing effectively. Sounds a lot like grassroots journalism, doesn't it?

Credibility, on the other hand, is still largely measured by one's association to a respected organization, so that's a hurdle we've yet to truly overcome. Accuracy wavers, with a third-party editorial function absent from most blogs.

To further compare new media services to print, consider research indicating that the age of newspaper readers is getting older, implying a preference shift to Internet-based delivery mechanisms. Steve Rubel also discovered that many people don't really care about a blogger's literary acumen and consiciously don't expect blogs to be traditional masterful publications, just expecting interesting thoughts.

John very wisely notes that today's newspaper beats out the Internet in privacy, but leaves out the critical interactivity aspect that so sorely hurts papers (another element print media hasn't widely been able to effectively leverage). True, a paper doesn't track and submit demographic data about you in the background and is a mobile product in the truest sense of the word, but in what capacity can you interact with the editorial staff? Today's world is about sharing information, not hording it.

The big knock on blogs used to be that the classical promotional engine of big-budget corporations would trump any viral marketing effort by the cyberspace community. Not so - the hype generated by shareware/freeware, web promotion, word-of-mouth advertising and community push has proven to be self-sustaining, and for some applications has exclusively driven their popularity. Look what's become of WikiPedia.

People have also said blogs wouldn't get off the ground because they'd be too hard to find amidst the millions of domains and web pages. Good point - recent analysis indicates the size of the blogosphere reportedly doubles every five months. Blog trackers now deliver near real-time content at no cost; old school wire services used to provide such services at a price so premium only formal news services could afford them. RSS is everywhere these days, to the point of sites without them being labeled inferior.

Advanced services categorizing, filtering and distributing content according to popularity in the blogosphere like Technorati, Memeorandum, Blogniscient and Digg aren't just improving the quality of experience for existing consumers by eliminating the tedious search function...they're bringing more people in by simplifying the process. And these services weren't even publicly available when I penned my column above this past February, exhibiting the rapid product development cycle of new media apps. Blog search tools like those of Google and Yahoo! make finding content even easier, social networking services like make one's content of interest accessible (Flickr adds a multimedia twist), and RSS aggregators like Google Reader ensure you get just what you want without having to sift through nonsense and clutter. Litefeeds even makes it mobile.

Google News tracks only legitimate news agencies, sources, stations and publications and updates its index every few minutes, delivering a rapid response surpassing anything a paper or broadcast could ever hope to achieve, the latter media being limited by rigid distribution schedules.

I'm not saying we need to rub all MSM journalists out of the picture - there's always going to be a need and place in society for trained writers, reporters and columnists. It's not the profession, it's the platform. We need to embrace the concept of citizen reporting and include their contributions into the equation, too. An example of such integration is the undoubtable fact that the classification of people I respectfully call "groupie bloggers" (those whose blogging behavior typically recycles interesting content from other sites, perhaps the same community John refers to) will link to mainstream origins anyway, resulting in the circulation of their information.

The bottom line is that the system works. New media apps beat the static, non-interactive, dated nature of newspapers. And whether you agree with it or not, to ignore such products and services is asking to get wiped out by them.

(And in fairness, as Steve also mentioned, broadcast media outlets are subject to the same doom as print, just not as immediate. Radio's current state, in terms of content delivery, revenue model and accessibility is horrendous; and traditional TV is already starting to head down the same path.)

Apple's real plan for iPod video?

Stephen Speicher wrote a really good piece about what he projects the true reactions to video over the iPod will be: The Clicker: Apple's real plan for iPod video?

Good reading, well thought out analysis. Check it out.

Microsoft XML NotePad's inability to process CDATA

I'm searching for a workaround to handle manually-edited XML files for my site. I've been using Microsoft XML NotePad for years, but the one knock I've always had against it is its inability to handle CDATA. As far as I know, you can't add parsed text delimiters to XML elements from within the utility's GUI, and it overwrites such a section of an imported XML document with parsed data. This is killing one of my applications, so I need to switch to something that's graphical and quick to use, but also lightweight and free.

Anyone got any suggestions?

Apple's breakneck versioning cycle for iTunes

I'm listening to the October 13 episode of The Daily Source Code in which Adam Curry praises Apple's massive product rollout. Currently, he's talking about iTunes 6. I'm marvelling at the seemingly-lightspeed pace that iTunes went from a Mac- and iPod-centric audio player to an app that's taken the world by storm - Windows users included.

iTunes 4.9 debuted at the end of June, and iTunes 5 came out sometime in August. And now, a little more than a month after 5.0, Apple dropped iTunes 6. Wow. Some, are questioning why 5.0 didn't get enough breathing room. What caused this? Here's a little speculation.
At any rate, Apple's strategy, whether intentional or accidentally market-driven, is positively unorthodox. And we're better off for it. My dad updated his iTunes to 6.0 and is going nuts with the video, which he swears is DVD qualty.

Should content creators include the full text in an RSS feed?

Joel and I were rapping about the content production habits of several well-known media sources, including CNN, ESPN, and locally, KUAM. The major focus of our talk was whether its better from

From a user's perspective, I've gotten mixed reactions. Half of the RSS consuming community - who's prime interest would seem to be the user experience, putting longer load times ahead of having to follow links - likes the full article loaded in an aggregator, saving them the need to click to the actual article on that source's site. The other half - evidently more concerned about payload - seems to appreciate abstracts and headlines, with links provided for the full stuff. I also noted that for this reason, perhaps content creators should consider writing tighter, more succint articles.

(For the record, I'm in the former half....I don't mind staying within a single app and reading stuff.)

Looking at the flip side of the argument, marketers would naturally oppose the notion of displaying an article's full text in an RSS feed, because it denies her the ability to display client ads. Certain RSS feeds have progressively tagged all their items with promotional mentions or even in-line client banners, which is cool. Services even exist that do this.

Today, many of the big-time sites, like CNN and ESPN, use a headlines-only approach, while smaller sites lean towards the full text. Maybe it's the eternal argument with RSS.

ASP.NET 2.0 needs cross-transport handling facilities

One thing that's becoming more and more popular in non-Microsoft communities, in my observation, is allowing for clients other than webforms to submit and pocess data. This is most evident in the (in)ability to submit forms via mobile environments and through e-mail (ex: posting to a blog via an e-mail message or from a text message composed on a wireless phone).

A handful of cross-transport modules for SMTP, SMS, and MMS are floating around, but nothing sadly exists at the moment that's easy to use, supported by Microsoft and that can be plugged right into ASP.NET 1.x/2.0 web applications. Blogger does this really, really well.

I'm disappointed that the ASP.NET team didn't make this part of the 2.0 build. Anyone know if something like this is coming down the pipe anytime soon?

Titty-based MP3 players

Memeorandum is tracking several blog posts to an article that projects computer chips embedded within breast implants - electronics in one and storage in the other - making it possible for surgery candidates to play music through their boobs via BlueTooth, making them more useful.

I guess this is eventually going to put all strip joint DJs out of work, with exotic dancers being empowered to cue up their own music. Here's a UI tip: make a recipient's areolas function like the iPod scroll wheel - functional AND entertaining.

BillG's Big Ten tour

Microsoft's chief software architect is apparently doing a Big Ten tour as part of a recruiting trip, scouring the Mid-West for top-notch computer and engineering talent. The world's richest man visited Madison yesterday and Ann Arbor today.

I'm hoping someone will put up video of said tours, but hoping more than BillG, exhibiting his trademark sense of humor, suits up in the maize and blue for a picture on the 50-yard line of the Big House and launch into a rendition of "Hail to the Victors". That would be classic.

Go Blue!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The new marketing tagline for movies from this point on

I'm still coming down from my Apple sugar rush today, so one more post on the impacts of the multimedia-rich "One More Thing..." announcement Steve Jobs gave.

Imagine the new mandated tagline movie compaines, TV networks and content multimedia producers are going to have to start using in commercials -

"[ SOME MEDIA PRODUCT NAME HERE ], coming soon on October 12 for DVD, PSP, and in the iTunes Music Store"

Praying for VH1 programming in iTunes Music Store

I realize that much of the 2,000 clips in the first-run content library available from the new video-enabled iTunes Music Store is going to be from the Disney Family of networks (ABC, Disney, hopefully soon ESPN), but I'm crossing my fingers that Viacom gets with the program and puts its stuff up, too. Despite my skepticism about purchasing TV programming from the iTunes Music Store, and the fact that I work in the TV business notwithstanding, I'd gladly fork over $1.99 per episode for VH1's "I Love the 80's 3D". Like in a heartbeat.

Why? Simple...

BlogLines adds Google Reader-esque keyboard shortcuts

Perhaps pressured by the positive feedback the keyboard shortcuts in GMail and Google Reader are generating, BlogLines added a similar feature in its RSS aggregator. Neat.

I have noticed that my "J" and "K" keys are markedly more worn down since getting a GMail account.

Watching full-length TV/movies on portable devices

Previously, I shared my thoughts about ESPN securing the digital rights to Major League baseball to be able to stream live games. I still find the idea perplexing - as cool as it is foolish. It's convinience in letting people jump right into a broadcast while on the go is great; but who would watch and entire nine inning on a 2" screen?

I'm now asking myself the same thing about people watching entire TV shows on video-capable iPods. Getting into a game in the final seconds with the constant "here's what you missed" approach of network sports TV is one thing, a drama, comedy, or formal broadcast presentation is another...meaning we'll have to watch things all the way through. Are people really going to be that locked-in to their devices?

Don't get me wrong...I'm a big consumer tech advocate and I think the notion of video on iPods is great. I'm just wondering if people will tolerate rich content on a limited screen. But integrating the new iPods with iTunes 6 is a residual benefit, as the main consuming clients for video is expectedly other apps/platforms/appliances.

Then again, the smallest screen that ever held my attention captive for extended periods of time was the original GameBoy.

Wachowskian philosophy: the overlooked duality of Agent Smith's name

In considering the numerous references made by the pop culture phenomenon that continues to the Wachowski Brothers' "The Matrix" saga, I've recently developed a theory about one character - a main one - that has curiously gotten overlooked in the dissection of his name, one that may carry more meaning than at face value.

The theological, literary and historical significance of the names used in the films (The Matrix, The Matrix - Reloaded, and The Matrix - Revolutions), video game (Enter the Matrix) and collection of animated shorts (The Animatrix) can't be understated. Names like Morpheus (the god of dreams in Greek mythology), The Oracle (at Delphi), Captain Niobe (Biblical), The Merovingian (as in the Merovingian Kings of France, who believe they are descendants of Jesus Christ), Commander Jason Locke (a la John Locke the empiricist), Captain Soren (as in Kierkegaard), the ship The Logos (meaning "the word"), etc. connote a deeper meaning than just coincidental, and often their characters display traits common to those they reference. This proves the deliberate, intelligent placement of their names; and I've read, watched and discussed countless hypotheses regarding what people, things and events those names represent.

However, one supposition I've yet to see is relating the villain Agent Smith to the economist Adam Smith. Sure, the general consensus by diehards and passersby alike is that Smith (the agent) by his nature in executing his function as a program within the system is a completely generic character, devoid of any redeeming or extraordinarily unique characteristics. Being modeled after a male human being, the agent requires a name of some sort to adhere to the very human quality of personality (apparently, even agents need some distinction, at least among themselves). As such, he's given the name Smith.

Most people accept Agent Smith's mandated abstraction as the sole reason the Wachowskis named him as they did. But I see a more meaningful, more philosophical relation in his behavior, carrying out the theories of the father of modern economics. This peers beyond the casual first glance, delving deeper than just the initials "A.S.".

Thus, I propose that Agent Smith is the personification (in a manner of speaking) of a firm competing in a capitalist society.

Consider that Smith (the economist), in introducing utopian capitalism in his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, suggested that as entities within a macroeconomy, each individual inherently has the opportunity to attain sovereignty by way of attempting to fully maximize one's utility. Agent Smith certainly took this approach and pursuing self-interest over altruism when revolting against the system that enforced the rules governing how he could both exist and "live".

Adam Smith stressed the importance of laissez faire ("leave us alone") economics, with the system's governing authority not regulating an individual's actions, eventually allowing the enterprise to be free. Agent Smith ultimately adopted such a strategy, becoming an exile of the Matrix, gaining penultimate control within the fabricated reality, and attempting to overthrow the system itself. He nearly did so, were it not for the collaborative intervention of Neo and Deus ex Machina.

Additionally, one might consider Jean Jacques Rousseau's concept of an economic agent. Pretty interesting.

I'm quite certain I'm not the only person who's made such an observation. The similarities between the academic ideas of the real-life Smith and the behavior of the fictional Smith are, I think, too closely related to not warrant some investigation. Get in touch with me if you are such a person and let's rap about it.

(This article is also published at THEMATRIX101.COM)

Should RSS aggregation mandate publishing shorter articles?

I was thinking of something as I pored through nearly 400 new blog posts in Google Reader. Since the RSS aggregator is gaining momentum in how people receive news, entertainment and information, I'm noticing that out of necessity due to the amount of time it takes me to read a day's blogging, I skip the longer pieces or try and skim to get the jist of the publication.

Does this mean all media publishers - mainstream included - should seriously consider writing smaller, more succinct articles to maximize readership? Should those of us that distribute multi-platform work (web, RSS, wireless, e-mail, etc.) consider reducing the content's payload?

Steve Rubel asked if a blog post's length mattered to people, which for most, doesn't. I've started making my web-based articles at KUAM.COM a bit less verbose, and the RSS-consuming community say they appreciate it. Of paticular importance is writing tighter when distributing content wirelessly, to reduce the number of page reloads on space-limited screens.

What do you think? Should colummists, journalists, bloggers and writers shorten their work to ensure people read them?

iTunes 6 supports video - an integrated approach

Geez...and iTunes 5 is just barely out of the gate. I've always appreciated great marketing, and Apple's having a field day with new product rollouts. My previous fascination was with Google.

I've been pondering the total impacts that today's release of iTunes 6 is going to have on the media business, with the platform's key feature being its integration with the iTunes Music Store to support video. So, as Joel postulated, in addition to movies, music videos, short films and specials, TV programming like many (if not most) of ABC's sitcoms and dramas will be available for download a day as QuickTime clips after they've aired on network TV.

This makes perfect sense. Apple was quick to forge an alliance with ABC's family of networks (Disney, ESPN, ABC Family, etc.), as was evident in the earliest podcasts available after iTunes 4.9 came out. So they've gotten a major platform advantage on the other networks. And it's no scheduling snafu that they're coinciding this with the announcement of the new video iPod to surge demand for the player, hitting the ground running with great, in-demand content to show, via a $1.99 per video purchase at the iTunes Music Store .

Absolutely brilliant.

Is Ajax wrecking mobile development?

I previously projected the impact(s) of the community's mad dash to implement Ajax in web applications, citing one of those as the effect it has on mobile development. With a rapidly-growing number of apps and APIs these days being almost exclusively dependent on calling XML asynchronously via client-side JavaScript , I fear this is hurting the already-slow pace to develop truly multi-platform applications. We simply won't be able to replicate the postback-less functionality in a mobile environment.

Or, it'll be too much work to do so.

Think about it: I was mentally pseudocoding a Google Local mash-up suitable for wireless phones and PDAs, wherein a user could perform a lookup for an address, and then based upon their GPS-accessed position, have driving directions to/from their locale calculated automatically. Nice in theory, but there's so much functionality dependent on Ajax (not to mention everything is written in a client-side script block, which not all mobile browsers support), I don't know how to get around it or if such an application is even possible, sans client-side callbacks.

I think Microsoft has taken this under consideration and is implementing depracating considerations in Atlas. I think.

Video iPods would really empower podcasting/v-logging

I'm hoping that the speculation over the planned press conference today from Apple will announce the release of the first video iPod. This has been circulating the blogosphere for several days, from AppleInsider, MSM and countless bloggers.

This would be a very expected stategic step, with Apple trying to edge itself into the market and compete against Windows Media Player and portable devices like high-end iRivers and the PSP. But my bigger interest is the impact this will have on podcasting.

It's likely going to encourage more content creators to start v-logging, and could see a whole new Apple-centric shift in podcasting, moving from audio-only MP3s to audio/video-capable MP4s, corning the market on high-end podcasts. Since Apple extended RSS with its iTunes 4.9+ tagset to enable enhanced podcasts (find links about enhanced podcasts), this gives it the edge on Microsoft. For the moment.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Average age of newspaper readers: 55

Considering the impacts of current/future new media applications on society, how people get information and how such apps will change how people receive sensory intut, I previously predicted the inevitable death of the newspaper industry, with some of my contemporaries disagreeing, some in full support of my theory. It's no secret that most of those into blogging, podcasting, wikis, DVRs, digital cable, streaming media, etc. are of the younger demographic.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune (itself a paper) published a report citing a study that determined the average age of newspaper readers was 55. I didn't think it would be that dramatic or this soon.

"Fewer young people are picking them up, and the average age of a newspaper reader is now 55, according to a Carnegie Corporation study. Many papers have been losing circulation at alarming rates across all age groups."

Finally! Someone has something nice to say about Google Reader

Robin Good, whose blog I read all the time, threw a positive spin on the benefits of using Google Reader as an RSS aggegator.

It's moderately technical, although not menacing for the neophyte, and couples some very specific examples of what the program does right and does well with helpful screen grabs, which makes his review the perfect de facto tutorial/help. The lack of such documentation is something I've had a problem with.

Getting used to Blogger over .TEXT

Since setting up my new domain this morning, I've been trying to customize and personalize the aesthetics of this Blogger-based weblog before I start working on importing the old data, if that's at all possible. I've used a .TEXT blog for nearly two full years and have really enjoyed working with it. While the former is perfectly suited for all sorts of users, .TEXT is a blogging tool by a developer for developers.

Here are some things I enjoy about Blogger over .TEXT:
However, nothing's perfect, and there are a few things I miss about .TEXT:

No iPod love for Toyotas?

I was glad to see that Apple's expanded its roster of supported automobiles that can support iPod adapters, but then surprised to see that no such support exists for Toyotas.

With Toyotas far and away being the dominant brand on Guam, this is sadly yet another reason iPods aren't going to propogate locally anytime soon. And making for yet another hurdle for me to get people into podcasting.

Browsing to Google's ROBOTS.TXT implies product release schedule

I've always been against the practice of using a web site's ROBOTS.TXT file, mainly because it gives away what you're doing, and for some people, can be a low-grade security hazard. Snoopers, exploiting this very tactic, have been able to pick apart Google's release strategy for Google Reader and now, apparently, Google Wallet.

It's been discovered by simply browsing to that a directory name "/purchases" and "/gwt" have been blocked from crawlers.

Hunting for throwbacks

I'm a big sports guy and I like throwbacks. I've got several already, and I'm Froogling the hell out of web shops and eBay to try and find the following:
Like most people that live on Guam, I'm always on the prowl for a good bargain, so I'm not exactly playing the "money's no object" role. I'm willing to pay a decent price for any of the above. Desmond Howard is the accessible/available, while Team USA jerseys technically can't be marketed for licensing reasons, but can be replicated.

Reactions to Google Reader

Since I've moved my blog over to my own domain, I figured I'd copy the more relevant content in the last few days, foremost among which are my reations to the release of Google Reader:

Yahoo adds bloggers to news pages

Yahoo! (a service I've still surprisingly never used in my life) is doing something really cool...allowing participatory journalism alongside the mainstream content. Of course, Yahoo! can do this, being a portal, so assumedly others will follow suit...I'm waiting to see when MSM and citizen reporting will be displayed side-by-side on major news networks, agencies and services.

New domain/blog (slight return)

I'm back! After debating over registering my own domain, I've finally done it (thanks GoDaddy). This'll be my new domain space for my blog, although you can get archived posts at my former .TEXT blog from Microsoft.

I'll also be putting a lot of things about ASP.NET 2.0, JSPs, embedded programming, sports, how much I loathe reality TV, podcasting, cool consumer tech, and other stuff.

Here's the new RSS feed, since apparently it isn't showing up on this page:

Gold star for Writely

I finally figured out what everyone has known for awhile - Writely rules. I've setup an account and have been messing around with it in between taping my sports show this afternoon. I've previously used the roaming collaborative environments Basecamp and WriteBoard from 37Signals before with the Podcast Specification Working Group, and those were really fun.

I see it as a mash-up of the wiki concept of community-editable documents with RSS feeds to track document changes chronologically. It's amazing how simple the concept is. I prefer Writely mainly for the fact that I can (take the product tour):

I think this app is in need some of sort of mobile support, but it's way cool. I've already added this to my list of Firefox tabbed start pages.

A local IT guy thinks this is neat, but won't start using it, citing similar functionality within SharePoint Services.

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