Saturday, November 29, 2008

Drivespace considerations for shooting on HD

Earlier this week John Davis did a story on JVC's latest line of digital camcorders.  Joe Termulo, our videographer for the assignment and a real tech whiz, had the foresight to shoot the portions of the piece that talked about the Everio S Series, G Series and HD devices with those very units, and then incoporate them into the story:

So when he brought the raw footage back to the KUAM Studios after principal photography in its various forms (our native DV, the S/D Series digital format, and the 1080p high-definition), the geek in me wanted to see the variance in filesizes between each.  As we'll be moving to fully-digital broadcasting in a couple months and soon thereafter HDTV, I wanted to gauge what we should be looking at in terms of storage for our raw archives, as well as what we produce every night.

The quality speaks for itself, so I won't belabor the richness of audio/video between each.  About 2 minutes of footage shot on the various platforms, captured into Final Cut Pro is as such:
DV - 75 MB
S/G Series - ~200 MB
HD - 578 MB

Whoa.  We've got some pretty spacious hard drives in use already for storage, but considering that for every 60 seconds of edited news footage that makes it on the air is in reality at least 6-7 minutes of shot footage, this is going to take some massive disks.

Shred, shred, and shred some more...

I love shred guitar.  It's just the extreme nature of the art form -  playing at insanely fast tempos and cramming in as many notes as possible, while still trying to be musical about it.

But sometimes it's fun to sit back and laugh about how absurb the practice can be.  As a quip, check out this good-hearted clip titled, "Every Slayer solo ever":



Are filesystem-based web apps the new "in" thing?

If you're into web infrastructure, this case study on EventSeer.net is a great read, possibly indicating how a growing preference is to base a web app's structure on filesystem, rather than exclusively on dynamic content generated by templates reading-in database information.

Food for thought.

3G Throwdown - the redux

A few weeks ago I began testing and comparing the wireless broadband services that just launched, gauging IT&E's EVDO platform against DOCOMO Pacific's 3G network (3.5G Max, if you're paying attention to the commercials).  At the time I said I didn't have enough empiciral data to issue a recommendation or declare a clear-cut winner.

And while I still can't claim one significantly over the other like some referree at the end of a prize fight, I have learned enough to help you make a good buying decision this year.

PRICE:
Both 3G and EVDO will run you about the same ($50/month), so there's no real discernible winner here.  Ostensibly, bundle packages with either company bring the price down.

COVERAGE:
DOCOMO, for the moment, has this one on lockdown.  While I've been just about everywhere on Guam and have had access in all but the obvious traditional telecomm trouble areas (i.e., mountainous, low-lying, in the jungle).  All metro locales work with 3G.  IT&E is admittedly lagging in their islandwide coverage, so surprisingly parts of larger villages like Mangilao can't avail of it yet.

CONNECTIVITY:
Now while I do give the nod to 3G for better reception, I will note how my 3G access tends to sporadically dropout, forcing an automatic reconnect.  The only time I ever experienced a severed connection on EVDO was exactly after a 3-hour sustained connection, leading me to believe that there's an interval in how long one can be connected.  I greatly prefer the latter.

CLIENT PLATFORM:
Since IT&E is pushing the Verizon UM150 Modem, which runs off of USB, the client connection software is available for Windows and Mac OS X.  DOCOMO so far is only good for the Windows folk by way of the BandLuxe WCDMA & HSDPA ExpressCard that's being touted.

SPEED:
This is the determining factor, where the rubber meets the road, and for most users (yours truly included) is worth paying extra if the OOMPH! factor is kicked up a notch.  In theory, both platforms are capable of delivering up to 7.2 Mbps downstream bandwidth, and both ISPs say depending on location, connectivity and traffic load you can get up to 3.4 Mbps.  On EVDO, I consistently get around 1.5 Mbps.  3G normally pulls in about 800 Kbps.  That's still very snappy for most recreational browsing and doesn't impair video too badly.  Do the math.

So while you're on your own to choose, it's all a matter of wanting more flexible connectivity versus pure speed.  Happy holidays!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Revising Metcalfe

Robert Metcalfe, a personal fave, invented Ethernet. Did his doctoral work at Hawaii. Co-founded 3Com. He postulated what ultimately became his eponymous law, stating that a network's value increases exponentially as nodes are added to it. I referenced him almost religiously in graduate school. He da man.

As we've been collaborating on a Web 3.0 social media platform for the last several weeks, in the typical intense back-and-forth that we've been engaging in since the 2nd grade Will and I discussed whether multiplatform accessibility in modern-day social networking applications is an extension of the precepts of Metcalfe's Law, or merely inherent as a part of it. Does the value of a networked system gain any more natural utility as the number of nodes remains the same but the access points for each is increased? We investigated.

Here's our revisions to the theory, using Metcalfe's original facsimile analogy: if two people both have fax machines, their combined value (the possible number of peering combinations) would be 1 (e.g., n(n-1)/2). Every person owning a fax machine from that point on would increase the overall value of the network by virtue of the expanded peering. This is a well-proven rule in distributed computing, both for mainframe and client/server envirnonments. But we find it to be one that's candidate for revision with the continuing rise of the Social Web.

So does the value truly lie in the network itself? In social networking apps, like Twitter, the nodes are the people themselves, not the access points they use. The actors in a given social network could remain constant, but if each was given a mobile phone, a console gaming system, an Internet appliance, an interactive TV portal, an embedded widget, a Firefox extension/browser plugin and additional means of posting status message updates - in addition to the base web access - would they change the utility of the system?

I argued that the network's aggregate value would remain unchanged for the network itself, seeing as how the other nodes wouldn't necessarily care how their peers connected to it; even if the user personally gained more out of the experience. Ever the alpha to my omega, Will countered by saying that the overall value of the network surely would increase in parallel with each node having n more access points, as each member of a user's social circle would be able to enjoy their expanded interaction, given a more convinient ability to access it. This, he defended, would add to the total worth of the network, albeit requiring an additional multiplier to properly quantify each user's additional affinity.

Perhaps we've stumbled upon an extension to Metcalfe all our own. Consider from now on Salas's Law with the Ymesei Coefficient. (You're welcome, world.)

Obviously, it's been a slow day at the office for both of us.  I wonder if Sergey and Larry started out this way...

3G BlackBerry Bold is worth it

OK, OK, I know Guam is slightly behind the pace in terms of technical gadgetry with the G1 and BlackBerry Storm being all the rage in the States.  But my office just got moved up in the digital world from our BlackBerry 8830 World Editions to the Bold.  And for our money, it's worth the upgrade. 

The 3G service is noticably faster, which makes browsing much more enjoyable, (micro)blogging more managable, and streaming video a lot more tolerable.  The screen is wider with richer colors and crisper resolution and the keys have a softer touch (I've never been crazy about touchscreens).

If you have the means, it's worth your dime.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Under the lights

The upside - my body gave me a pretty good indication that I'm over the flu I've been battling the flu for the past couple of days by suddenly and without warning expelling mass amounts of perspiration.  

The downside - my body decided to do this tonight while I was on the set, anchoring the news.

Yecch.  And I'm not someone who sweats a lot normally.  So that was yet another new experience that makes this the most fun job in the world.

Is there really such thing as a webmaster anymore?

Depending on how you percieve it, the coolest and simultaneously most misunderstood job title in the world (which lends to the coolness factor) used to be Webmaster.  That one person in a company who was primarily responsible for the in-house production of an organization's online presence.  And this one person - and it usually was always a single, unitary individual - did everything.  

Graphics, layout, coding, color schemes, CSS, JavaScript, server management, domain registration, content production and more were all under the purview of this one individual.

With web technology having progressed the way it has, there's been a natural and predictable segmentation of responsibility so that the three major areas - programming, design, and server maintenance - have taken on lives of their own.  Each, even in basic scenarios, can be so daunting they require their own staffer.

The moniker "webmaster" now is more seen as marketing fluff by people who just don't know.  most web workers I know of won't even go near that title with a 10' pole.  I know I won't.

Maybe it's another iteration of the progression of our subversive nature to not want to conform to generally-accepted standards.

Can you GET any more 80's????

Don't ask me how I stumbled across this - I said don't ask! - but if there's a video out there that does a better job of encapsulating what it means to be quintessentially 80's, I've yet to find it.



Everyone knows I'm a metalhead at heart, but when I think of the Decade of Decadence, this is the imagery that comes to mind.

My God - the hair. The terrible, slightly muted signing-behind-lip synching. The Jersey Mall Hair. The fact that the only part of the jeans that aren't deliberately cut-up are acid-washed. The dances. The crowd reactions. Oh yeah, and "Silent Morning" was the typical freestyle fodder for any party I ever went to in high school.

How I miss the days...

Patience waning for Guam bloggers

Two posts from some friends of mine about the state of the Guam economy - Will's and Josie's - as well as my own writing are indicative of an interesting trend.  I'm noticing more and more a progressive aggresion in the tone local residents are taking when talking about the community and issues befalling us.

This to me is significant, because it's a continuing indication that something's about to come to a head.  First people get an opinion.  Then they vocalize it in some form of media.  They first are cordial, terse and polite.  As time moves on and situations remain the same their attitude sharpens, gets more long-winded and patience grows thin.

It's good that people care enough to share their thoughts with a few, are brave enough to publicize them even more, and stronger still to defend them to a larger audience.  It's just telling of the times that things need to get better, if the masses are notably listless.  

All revolutions gotta start somewhere, right?

Friday, November 21, 2008

My GBN interview on web tech

I was interviewed today for a Guam Business News piece of the evolution of web technology on Guam.  This is the latest in a long and storied tradition of me taking my time to reveal my thoughts at length, two sentences of which make it to print. 

Here's the full transcript of today's Q&A: 


Describe your background in technology and your role at KUAM.
I've been working with the Internet since 1994.  Academically, I studied marketing and music and I have a MBA in technology management.  I've been involved in product development for more than half my life and I've been writing software for the last decade.  

In a nutshell, I'm in charge of KUAM's presence in the interactive media space.  I'm tasked with overseeing that the news and entertainment information we produce is seamlessly expressed in as many formats and platforms as possible, and accessible across as many digital devices as we can support.  If it involves the Internet, it probably involves me.  So a big part of my job naturally revolves around the Web.

My days are typically spent thinking about how to leverage emerging technologies and newer innovations such that our content is relevant with them.  Our goal is Constant Connectivity: to make sure that no man, woman or child on Guam is ever without the ability to access our information or interact with our castmembers.


Comment on local web design. How has it evolved over the years?
There was a minor surge locally that paralleled the national Dot Com Boom of the late nineties in which a lot of Guam entrepreneurs setup shop as "web designers".  Most of the web design crowd was made of converted graphic designers that were only as skilled at web functionality as the capabilities of their copies of DreamWeaver would allow them to be.  Not many people developed anything from the ground up.  

So a lot of the work was derivative and limited, and as a result was a hard sell.  At the same time, clients didn't really know what they wanted either and didn't have sound strategies for being online.  Having a web site was seen as a low-cost advertising cop-out rather than a strategic extension of your market reach.  And many more were just scared of the 'Net.  The whole ecosystem for many companies was a huge bust.

More and more, the microeconomy of Guam's web development industry over the years has begun the see the value in having sites that satisfy the two prime goals: form and function.  Small shops started to concentrate on specializing their teams - having a front-end designer for graphics, color scheme, fonts and layout; a programmer to develop features and components with a web framework, database and client scripts; perhaps a Flash expert for building rich user interfaces; and a content specialist person handling just content and search engine optimization.

The work's gotten a lot more segmented, but for the betterment of the output products.  We're seeing holistic web work now - projects that are pleasing to look at and easy to interact with while at the same time filling a functional gap.


Describe some of the trends you see cropping up in local web design. Try to be as specific as possible.
I'm still not seeing as much up-front, pure development as I'd like to.  Aesthetic appeal draws me in, but if a site can't deliver any functionality or let me interface with the core competency of the organization it represents, I won't return.  I'd like people to come up with an original idea for an online service for the world audience in general - not just Guam - and really go to town.  Too much of what comes out these days is hack.  Let's see some original thought.

(I'm working on three such ideas right now - a TV-based social network; an artificially-intelligent content grouping service; and a geo-specific multiplatform events manager.)

At KUAM, we invest heavily into R&D.  Only about 4 out of every 10 projects we undertake make it to the prototype phase, and only 2 of those become products we put into our application pipeline.  But it's helped us create some really neat stuff for the web, or just in using web-based data with other platforms to enhance our broadcasting.


What are some of your favorite local sites? Comment on why.
I tend not to look at sites in terms of their points of origin, because to do so misses the whole point of being online - it doesn't matter where you're from.  I don't value a site any higher than the next just because it happens to be done down the street from me.  If a site's of piques my interest, I use it.  

That said, I've always been impressed with the work coming out of Data Management Resources.  They've done a good job of conceptualizing a few neat ideas and putting them into play as real working products.  A couple of the local ad agencies also do slick UI work.


How do you envision the future of local web design? What are you excited about?
Vendors are creating automated tools that'll let designers build powerful web services quickly and easily.  That's going to make for some interesting opportunities for the right companies out here.

But again, people have to realize that building for the Web involves design AND development.  The difficulty is that rarely the twain shall meet.  It's total left brain/right dichotomy - most coders aren't concerned with visualization and layout, while conversely many web designers don't think algorithmically.  Each is its own discipline, and being good at either requires lots of practice.


Globally, what trends are hot for 2008-2009? Focus on those that apply to both print and online.
There are several emerging platforms that really intrigue me.  New ways to access information, interact with data and deliver rich experiences are something I'm always on the lookout for to implement for KUAM.  From an access perspective, handheld devices, wireless access, cloud computing, software as a service, offline access, and more efficient media formats will get a lot of the limelight in 2009.

And there's lots being done with mapping and personalization to deliver customized content relative to precisely where you are in the world based on geolocation.  That's going to be huge.  One application of this we're already seeing is in the social networking space, letting you find friends nearby and collaboratively share multimedia with them.  That's an amazing achievement. 

We'll also start to see more AI and data semantics next year, opening up a whole new universe of possibilities to accurately finding, using and sharing data.

Wireless consumers are going to be getting online in ways they never have before.  They'll be enjoying rich experiences, not feature-reduced WAP/WML sites.  Overall, online services won't be as bloated as they are today; we'll use apps that aren't bound to one platform per se, but spread out over several devices and easily available as text, imagery, audio and video.  Most services are going to have web roots, but will also have counterpart desktop, texting and mobile equivalents (and even some non-traditional devices like televisions and specific Internet-aware appliances) that make using them very convenient.

Look at all the ways there are today to access and/or update MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and GMail. 

As far as how the Web continues to impact traditional mainstream media, it's a constant challenge.  News and content-rich web sites are the hardest type of sites to maintain because they're perpetual unfinished projects.  The number of ways to move and express data around is always rapidly expanding, and new gadgets come out all the time that require access to that information.  It's a daunting task.

The web professional who figures out how to apply these technologies locally is going to deliver some very innovative experiences. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Requiem for a magazine

One of the more polemical rants I've ever had was decrying the death of the print industry - not once, but twice - nearly four years ago.  I predicted that publishers of newspapers, magazines and books would have to undertake radical convergence measures and embrace the online concepts that mainstream media continues to be so ignorant towards if they wanted to stay alive.  

I saw that PC Magazine will be stopping circulation of its print publication, now being a 100% digital entity.  
From ReadWriteWeb - The problem for print magazines is not the fact that they are physical objects, but simply the fact that a publication which only appears once a month will always lag behind its online competition.
I'm now wondering what took them so long.  Who's next?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Marketing MMA: believe the hype

One of the sister corporations owned by my company, KUAM, produces mixed martial arts events.  They're phenomenally popular, and given the fact that Pacific eXtreme Combat contracts my crew to do production and marketing for the events, coupled with the international demand for full-contact fighting, it's all the rage locally.  So much so that it's created an entire subculture all its own, fostering an across-the-board demand that's equally devout and insatiable for those that follow it, the likes of which I haven't seen in any other industry on Guam.

Thousands flock to the grand spectacles that are the fight events and with similar fervor fans watch the TV shows, buy the videos, purchase pay-per-view programs, rock the clothing lines, bookmark URLs and engage in web forums dealing with anything and everything having to do with fighting, train at the many local gyms, and religiously support the celebrities that the combatants have become.  Opportunities abound.

These fight fans are spending their hard-earned money at live shows and on merchandise.  Further, they're repeat customers and display a proclivity to be open to new brand subsets within the genre.  From a consumer psychology standpoint, it's a fascinating ecosystem.

Now understand this and make no mistake about it: I'm not an MMA guy.  If given a choice I won't watch it.  I'm not being iconoclast, not taking some holier than thou path based on morals.  I've always been somewhat of a pacifist, so extreme violence just isn't my cup of tea.  But as a sports guy, I've seen the meteoric rise in popularity of the sport around the world.  And I'm likewise not nursing the tit of my own scruples such that on principle I ignore the lucrative ventures to which the industry gives rise.  

Since I'm a part of the production function, I help create and promote some of the auxiliary services; and I'm constantly amazed at the positive consumer reactions, brand loyalty and stickiness.  A marketing constant I've taken note of is that if you get your products in the MMA pipeline on Guam, you're going to make serious money. 

Conversely, other forms of information, entertainment and education media we produce and put to market isn't nearly as popular or profitable.  If only local residents would get half as fanatical, from a buying standpoint, for other sports.  Even football, the ever-reliable bastion of sports capitalism, doesn't have the draw of the typical MMA event these days.

As someone who produces interactive media products for a living, it's simply remarkable for me to witness how fight fans will buy, order, visit, use, listen to, watch, and interact with anything and everything having to do with their beloved sport.  Rather than reject the sport under the auspice of objecting to its violent nature, I've come to rely on using MMA as a staging ground for new platforms we adopt.  It's become a valued acid test for many new foundations we're using for other types of "mainstream" information. 

(Whatever the hell that means anymore.)  

In similar fashion, I also don't discount the business lessons that can be learned from other industries of questionable morals, such as heavy metal music, horror movies and porn.  You'd be amazed at the amount of valuable information you can take away to apply in your own line of work once you get over yourself.

So while I personally don't care for mixed martial arts, I won't run from the fact that there are a lot of people that do.  As a sportswriter I can't deny the monumental explosion MMA has had on the world of athletics at-large, nor can I ignore its earned place as a legitimate sporting event.  As a technologist, the virgin territory the legion of MMA followers provides for me to get new systems online and in practical play is more valuable than gold.  

And personal axiology aside, I won't deny the marketing opportunities the sport presents.

**UPDATE**: see what I mean?

Mobile development fandango

We've been looking at extending our service framework more for the mobile market - giving people enhanced access to our news data by way of intelligent applications and rich multimedia via portable digital devices.  So considering the types of experiences we're aiming to deliver over 2G and 3G networks using the triumvirate of mobile platforms - mobile web, SMS/MMS services and native apps - I'm favoring the latter.

While texting is great for data, there's only so much functionality that can be achieved with SMS (and MMS is becoming less and less viable).  The feature-reduced nature of WAP/WML sites definietly don't cut the mustard; and notwithstanding the recent achievements of Safari, Opera and Mozilla to build a rich mobile browser that can deliver desktop experiences on phones, there isn't a strong enough foothold yet to build out powerful applications over the mobile web.

In a certain light, the development model for mobiles is a huge step backward.  With so much fragmentation between wireless vendors, it's tough to plan out an app across platforms for adequate device coverage.  Think about the considerations just from vendor platforms alone: phones running iPhone, Android, BREW, Symbian, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and J2ME each carry their own set of concerns. 

I'm one of those that's hopeful that RIAs may bridge this gap.  Not only can desktop and mobile apps be built rapidly using web technologies - HTML, CSS and JavaScript - a universal Flash could also streamline rich experiences and features across otherwise disparate vendor platforms.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What have I wrought?

Spend five minutes with me and you'll undoubtedly take away that I'm nothing if not analytical.

I'm strategizing the changes that are already facing us now that we've gone whole-hog into live webcasting of our original local programming, extending our VOD archive of content, going multiplatform with mobile video, and coupling it with a PPV extension.  The timing with which we present our live streaming video exhibits is a big change, as we're now challenged to adjust our programming schedule in order to satisfy to greatest amount of viewers, locally and globally.  For us as a zero-market network affiliate TV station, this is a huge fork in the road.

The future of planning live programming has opened up a cornucopia of content delivery possibilities and revenue streams, but likewise introduced a veritable Pandora's Box of scheduling migraines.

Here's an example: during our live broadcast of the high school football championship this past weekend, I was taking constant note of those who accessed our free live streaming feed.  Because of the difference in time - 7pm Saturday Guam time is a somewhat uncomfortable midnight Friday for the West Coast, a more managable 11pm for Hawaii, but an ungodly 4am for folks out East - we had a sizable audience logged on from L.A., Seattle, Austin and other points west of the Mighty Mississip.  

As the game wore on folks ostensibly went to bed in Hollywood, as their numbers produced diminishing returns; but as the dew-time turned to sunrise, more people from Orlando, New York City, New Jersey, Newport News and other EST markets jumped online.  And all this while we managed a couple hundred local users jumping in and out of the captive online viewing pool, too.   And of course, the tens of thousands watching over traditional TV.

What I took away from this, and other live webcasts we've done in our first month since launching the platform, during which time we've covered some pretty major events, is the shifts is consumer behavior patterns relative to our domestic market.  We've got to adopt a more socialist approach to broadcasting live events, serving the greater good of the community.  What this means for us is possibly delaying or running live productions outside of the normal time that we would locally...just to appease the lucrative U.S. mainland market, even to the slight inconvinience of local audiences.

I'm already envisioning us sheepishly asking senior members of clergy, "Uh, Your Excellency?  Could you possibly start your mass an hour later...so that more Kansas ex-pats will watch online?"  Or to certain heads-of-state, "I know it's outside of your normal mid-day routine, governor, but let's plan on holding the lunchtime debate at 10:30am so that the large Chamorro constituency in Vegas has a chance to catch it."

With us being so small but serving so many, this has the potential to bring about revolutionary change.  It's yet another factor in determining how to produce great Guam TV in a manner that informs, entertains and educates the greatest number of people.

The stop-gap solution for managing content used to be time-shifted content, which is what made the 'Net truly great for markets like ours.  Podcasts, archives and delayed programming don't work as well as they used to.  We'll certainly draw a ton of traffic with those technologies and with web-based pay-per-view we can ensure we cash-in on it.  But times change and some events can't wait. 

As a riff on one of my favorite Stephen King lines: Sometimes, live is better.

All's well in TV Land

'Twas an instant classic, our Blogger Night Special on tonight's edition of KUAM News Extra, my station's live talkshow.  I spent a half-hour talking about the art of digital publishing and content delivery with Latitude13's Josie Moyer and ZenHabits.net's Leo Babauta.  Both GW grads, both really cool cats and both uber-talented.

Each talked about their humble beginnings and impressive accomplishments - from Leo's 70,000+ user RSS subscriber base, building a writing team and Hyperion book deal; to Josie's "Best Local Blogger" award, multimedia prowess and endless wellspring of intriguing original thought.  It made for a really honest conversation that showed how good people in this corner of the orb can do great, inspiring things.  And I had the best seat in the house.  I do love my work.

Another equally impressive friend, Andrew Gayle from GTA TeleGuam, brought in some gear with a demo of the BlackBerry Bold and digital TV.


So give this clip a spin, visit their sites, drop them a line on their mailto's, and let 'em know I sent you.  Thanks to Josie, Leo and Andrew for making the show a huge hit.

AJAX and network (dis)connectivity

I learned something interesting last week.  In testing Guam's two new mobile broadband networks, I was Twittering the results of both DOCOMO Pacific's 3G platform and IT&E's EVDO service, in that order and from within the same session in Google Chrome after switching connectivity, without closing the browser.  

What I didn't expect was that my posted updates never persisted after switching mobile networks when I checked the next morning.  This intrigues me, as the AJAX-driven Twitter obviously doesn't use hard page page reloads, dynamically refreshing a user's list of Tweets after a new one is posted. 

I'm not sure if this is a glitch isolated to Twitter in its web-based form, or perhaps Chrome as the container.  So looking at the larger implications, could this impact a user logged on to a site leveraging asynchronous data communications while roaming between service cells and/or Wi-Fi hotspots? 

Methinks some investigation is afoot.  Anyone else run into something similar to this?

Check out our new PPV service

I rolled out KUAM.com's new online PPV platform yesterday after teasing it last week, KUAM Web Pay-Per-View, following our coverage of Saturday night's high school football championship game.  It's pretty cool, and capitalizes on something I've been pushing in vain for years for: merchandising.

It's no secret that the TV biz is extremely fickle when it comes to income, with most companies having only ad buys and/or sponsorships as their primary (and in many cases, their only) revenue streams.  Whenever that goes sour, like with an economic downturn, shifts in consumer preference or tightening of pursestrings for whatever reason, it makes our lives very uncomfortable.  And since our stuff is time-sensitive and live, once an event's run its course, it's done.  Being a marketing guy, I've been advocating the merchandising of our stuff for a long, long time.  So once I found a practical, lucrative application of PPV, I jumped at it.

(To MCV's credit, they're also showing "Shiro's Head" via TV-based PPV, and in similar fashion recently charged viewers to watch MMA events after the fact, so it shows the system works.)

Plus, long tail economics imply that more money can be made going forward with a greater breadth of content, over a longer period of time.  In short, it just makes sense.  

At any rate, we're charging just $20 to stream the exhibits post-broadcast, and we're still streaming videos over 3G mobile networks.  We still have DVD-copying services available for those who want tangible media.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"Blogger Night" on KUAM News Extra

Next Monday's going to be a really fun episode of "KUAM News Extra" for us at Camp Happy.  I'm hosting a special themed version of our live talkshow that focuses on Guam's most promiment bloggers.  I'll be talking to two people who's work I've  greatly admired for years, Josie Moyer of Latitude13 and ZenHabits.net's Leo Babauta.

Josie was deservedly named GU Magazine's Best Blogger for 2008, and Leo's sizable audience (more than 77,000 subscribe to his feed) landed him a book deal.  I'd been on his site dozens of times, recommended by Digg, before realizing he was behind it.

It's going to be a cool show, so tune at 6:30pm on TV8, 7:30 on TV11, 8:30 on Local 2, and on-demand on KUAM.com or wirelessly on DOCOMO Pacific 3G mobiles.  And to make sure the show doesn't slip through the cracks in your mind, signup for program reminders for e-mail, text message, or your favorite web calendar.

Given the topic and target audience, I'm considering webcasting the 30-minute show live, too...if you guys on the East Coast want to get up at 4:30am to get your fix of your blog-celebs.  Just let me know and I'll set it up so Josie and Leo can include the link to the stream on their sites.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

3G Throwdown: IT&E vs. DOCOMO

In the interest of science, good journalism and responsible geekery, I'm comparing wireless broadband Internet access from IT&E's EVDO network and DOCOMO Pacific's (formerly Guamcell) 3.5G service.  You'll recall how I happily extolled the virtues of both telecomm companies for finally launching wide-area mobile broadband service.  It's been sorely needed.  

I've been Twittering my results for both IT&E and DOCOMO, bouncing pings off of a San Diego POP on SpeedTest.net from my dual-boot XP Pro/Ubuntu 8.04 laptop (since neither company supports a Linux dialer at the moment, we'll stick with Windows).  So let's put both to the test.


IT&E 
Throughput: 737Kbps download, 291 Kbps upload 
Client dialer: AllTel QuickLink Mobile
Pros: USB modem doubles as storage device, easy to setup, desktop client runs lean, available for Windows and Mac OS; I've been connected for more than 2 hours, and even during periods of dormancy, I've experienced no dropouts
Cons: coverage for the moment is VERY spotty and limited

DOCOMO Pacific
Throughput: 741 Kbps download / 194 Kbps upload
Client dialer: BandLuxe Connection Manager
Pros: being a PCMCIA device, the modem fits snugly and doesn't jut out; USB adapter available, too, so there's flexibility in connecting.  The dialer is very light and doesn't eat up much memory.
Cons: the PCMCIA peripheral uses a large activity indicator light that's multicolor and illuminates with any type of transmission/status change, so the BandLuxe card arguably draws more power than the USB modem.  I've also been told the service is avaliable for Windows-only at the moment.  The service also kicked me offline a couple of times (maybe because of inactivity), but quickly reestablished my connection.



Who wins?
Both providers use network interface devices capable of handling 7.2Mbps throughput levels, but both services promise somewhere closer to the range of around 3.7Mbps.  Not bad.  Unfortunately, I have yet to see speeds anywhere near that benchmark.  Ben's testing too, from Yigo, saying he's getting around 1.4Mbps.  Lucky duck.

As far as who's best, I hate to end this with a cliffhanger, but overall it's too early to say who takes the cake.  Both mobile broadband services displayed comparable speeds, suitable for most recreational web browsing.  I used some bandwidth-intensive web apps (Google Docs, Yahoo! Maps, Google Earth, Flickr, AJAX web desktops, YouTube clips, Flash games, remote desktop access, republishing my entire 1,400+ post blog - I obviously had nothing to do tonight), with no significant slowdown.  I wouldn't rely on either just yet to do any heavy lifting as far as uploading serious payloads of data.

I'm going to stress test each later tonight during off-peak hours with a couple of P2P file-sharing services, virtualization clients, some BitTorrent, podcatchers, and web and FTP servers constantly listening for new requests and see how each holds up.  

How much?
Since I'm a two-way beta tester, I've no idea what pricing looks like.  I'd say that based upon my brief toying around session, I'd be willing to pay $40 per month, and maybe a bit more if the throughput could be upped sufficiently.

Kudos to both IT&E and DOCOMO...having truly islandwide portable Internet access is something we've needed for a very long time.

UPDATE: 
Right when I was about to power-down my laptop and call it a night, my IT&E service jumped to 1.6Mbps.  Karma, man...

My stroll

I mentioned a few days ago how I'll be doing play-by-play during our live broadcast of this weekend's high school football championship.  I've got a ritual of sorts that sees me take an isolated, leisurely pre-event walk around a sports venue whenever I call a game.  

The habit gets so predictable my co-workers actualy tease me about it, seeming to mindlessly parade around a track, court, or gym.  But while it seems nonchalant, nothing could be further from the truth.

So much of my broadcasting work these days is studio-based that I need to get a refresher of what it means to document and report what happens in the field...I need to get a personal, literal feel for what the field really is.

My stroll has me walk around, getting an extrasensory feel for the atmosphere in all forms - the feel of the air, the ways the grass smells.  I quietly saunter past the teams themselves, gauging how collected the players are, how focused the coaches are keeping them.   I take note of how (in)tense the surrounding crowd is.  

It's all about gathering information I'll use for the actual show.  Because I loved as a kid listening to sportscasting legends describe to me in vivid detail how a stadium was that day, how loud the audience was, how the players' attitude quickly morphed from laughing into laser focus once the whistle blew.

It's a real experience that I collect and pass along to those who watch and listen as I dissect the emotions, attitude and events that unfold.  Because when it comes to telling people about a sporting event, you have to make them feel like they're right there with you.

My first mashup (and not done by me)!

I got a delightful e-mail just now from Joel informing me that he'd tapped my site's RSS feed, repurposing it as a Twitter feed using, appropriately, Twitterfeed.  Nice!  This goes along pretty well with mine, too.  (PLUG!)

This marks my first real external mashup...someone out there besides me hacking our data outside of a feedreader of JavaScript import.  Sweet.

Review: Opera Mini 4.2 beta

So I'm in bed last night, ready to conk out, and as normal, doing some last-minute scans of my blogroll on my BlackBerry 8830 when I came across the announcement that Opera had released a beta of its new mobile browser, Opera Mini 4.2.  I've been running 4.1 for several months now, somewhat begrudgingly, being forced to deal with multiple daily system crashes that require a hard reboot (removing/reinstalling the battery) in exchange for faster browsing and and overall better user experience than with RIM's stock web browser.

And I gotta tell you...4.2 is MUCH better.  Opera Mini's been touting faster mobile page surfing for awhile now, largely because of the proxy framework the company established that makes page accesses snappier.  Under the Settings option, you can choose between HTTP and socket access, the latter being notably faster.  And now even better news, especially for those of us in my neck of the woods:
Opera Mini 4.2 can use our newly established server park in the US. This means significantly faster page downloads for our users in the Americas and Asia-Pacific region. Users in the rest of the world will also experience faster page downloads since we've reduced the load on our other servers.
This was very welcome news to me, due to the aforementioned crashes.  I've noticed that such tend to happen when the browser is set in socket mode and the user might do too much too quickly (i.e., rapidly changing pages before they're completely loaded, stopping page loading in transit, loading extremely large chunks of content).

So instead of calling it a night, I surfed like a madman for the next 45 minutes, putting the new app's proverbial feet to the fire, and being pleasantly surprised at what I found.  My first impressions are very favorable: No crashes.  Multiple skins.  MUCH faster browsing, which is great for wireless providers using EDGE networks...this bad boy would scream under 3G scenarios.  And the app itself runs very lean, not making my device crawl to a snail's pace.

And the one feature I've always enjoyed about Opera Mini that I believe puts it over the top - the built-in RSS reader - remains a winner.  It handles single-click subscription and manages multiple feeds wonderfully.

Some of the cool features that would work on other mobile OSes, like viewing pages in landscape mode, don't work on the BB.  And I've never been crazy about the way Opera Mini handles HTML textbox controls, forcing the loading of a new screen into which data is inputted, confirmed, and then returned to the web page with the modified element.  I've always preferred the BlackBerry's Browser app, having more of a native web page feel.  I may ben the minority, but to me this is always an inconvinience.

So grab a copy and give it a spin.  The upgrade is available for BlackBerry, the Palm OS, and as a standard Java MIDlet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The downward spiral: marketing consumer tech on Guam

This Thursday we debut a new weekly segment on technology, written and hosted by my good friend John Davis. JD's quite the technophile and he's very excited to do it, so it's going to be great. I'm very excited for him and for the company and I can't wait to see what he's got cooking for giving people a glimpse into really using products, devices and services in their lives. The hypercompetitive, accelerated nature of the subject matter makes his a very challenging responsibility.

That said, I'm ascending my soap box here away from my employer to chime in with my own $0.02 on the state of consumer tech on Guam. It is, in a word and in my opinion, horrid.

When telecommunications really started taking off locally for home consumers - to be understood as the period following 2001, encapsulating Internet-based platforms requiring hardware products exclusive of the normative PC and modem - it opened up a whole new world of possibilities…and headaches. Let's consider several platforms that should be big-time moneymakers but have sadly been relegated to the ranks of loss-leaders:

Digital video recorders - MCV, following heavy investment and the injection of some mainland heavy-hitters on their executive team, had the vision to empower local audiences with time-shifted television programming. This, they hoped, would ride on Tivo's coattails and create new behavior patterns for enjoying shows. After more than three years, you wouldn't know such service is available on Guam. (To be fair, in today's world where iTunes and Hulu have rewritten the rules on watching TV and every major network has developed some sort of digital distribution model for their programming, the DVR's dominant days are well behind us.) Friends on the inside tell me that aside from a sizable number of freebie accounts used to demo the service, the paid subscriber pool is extremely shallow.

Digital TV - more recently DTV has been the Next Big Thing as we head towards system convergence next February and ultimately towards high-definition programming. Will HDTV really change the world if customers only see the purchase of a $1,700 set with an extra $90 every month on their cable bill during an economy under duress? Not likely. Again, I know lots of people that have been testing the respective DTV systems of MCV and GTA (including my parents, who by virtue of circuitous karma are running both), but I'm hard pressed to find six residents that have such service as paying customers.

Blackberrys - one of GTA TeleGuam's landmark moves in 2006 was introducing the island's first Blackberry service. Research in Motion's signature platform serves as the quintessential commodity exhibiting Metcalfe's Law - that the value of a network increases exponentially as nodes are added to it. That critical aspect was ignored in sales efforts and as such not impressed upon local consumers, who then drew their own conclusions, seeing the BB as just another high-priced mobile phone. The introduction of the former Guamcell as a BB distributor helped drive down pricing, but didn't ramp up proper promotion. The Blackberry's redeeming application, the proprietary Blackberry Messenger, now has less value with Google, Yahoo!, MSN and other third-parties releasing their own IM clients over a wide range of mobile OSes. And likewise less attractive these days is the BB's other cool feature, push e-mail, with services like MobileMe chipping away at its share. Oddly touted even less locally is the ability to surf the Web as it was meant to be accessed, with pages seamlessly displayed with HTML, CSS and JavaScript; not limited to feature-reduced WAP shells of their desktop equivalents.

User-generated content - at KUAM, we're certainly not innocent of having committed the sin of omission. When we revamped our user-generated content initiative, bridging our popular Familiar Faces and Citizen Correspondence platforms under a single umbrella, the established national YouNewsTV network, we were stoked to give people the chance to upload their own video and images. Sadly, it's been relegated to a handful of clips, coming from the States. And this didn't surprise me at all. I predicted us having a poor local response to our new product offering because of the fact that the requisite tools like video cameras either aren't affordably available out here, or the unwashed masses just aren't technically savvy enough. I knew that if we didn't help to put gear in people's hands and show them how to use it, we'd handicap our success.

iPods and iPhones are the rare exception, having achieved local presence mainly for the sexiness factor that accompanies anything Apple spits out these days, but driven no doubt by big-budget national marketing campaigns. Products like Slingbox and Chumby have never taken off, with only a scant handful of people locally using the former and no one I know of even being aware of the latter.

Giving out freebies, samples, comp accounts, etc. to the right people in positions of influence does grow a network. But local history tells us that the taste-test model when coupled with an ill-constructed marketing message can kill a potential customer base. The majority of those who would avail of services as paying customers already get it for free, so you've effectively enabled the marketing faux pas of cannibalization - achieving presence in people's homes, but without the critical subscription revenue.

Penetration-without-profit is a dangerous road to hoe.

The problem as I see it stems from a gross mispromotion not of technology itself, but of the applications of technology. Local companies are very good at creating awareness about a product…they just don't put forth an effective enough effort to let people know what they can do with it. No one's without guilt here - culpability lies with telecommunications interests, consumer stores and media companies (including my own).

It always comes down to hyping the sizzle rather than the steak. Don't naively create more buzz for the devices themselves, which in the grand scheme of things (and with Apple being the only exception) are largely inconsequential. Don't make the mistake of showing off the means to an end, when it's the end itself that deserves the limelight. Give away the razors to sell the razor blades.

If we've learned anything from the iPhone, it's that the hardware device is a commercial gateway into a near-infinite universe of products and services.

The end result as it stands is a somewhat fractured microeconomy filled with underprepared marketers making haphazard pitches to misinformed and ultimately unconcerned consumers. The landscape of living the digital lifestyle in my hometown has proven overall to be more post-modern than utopian.

And that, my friends, from the perspective of running a sustainable business, is VERY scary.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Live reports via videophone

Without any prior fanfare, we premiered a new platform twice last week and then again tonight: live reports from the field via videophone.  They're a phenomenal way to get live video coverage on the air quickly and nearly without cost.




Traditional live shot setups would mandate us maintaining expensive leased lines that wouldn't exactly be up and running in a flash; or we'd have to employ feeds from a satellite or live truck, neither of which a market like Guam is friendly with.  We use DOCOMO Pacific's 3G service, calling our homebase from the field with inexpensive handsets and running the stream live over the air (see Michele's report from a school meeting tonight in the clip).   They're admittedly a vast reduction in audio/video quality from the regular live shot, but achieve the impact of immediacy we're going for and have the rapid-response setup benefit that's so valuable.

Where this really pays off will be the one day when we do spot coverage of a major breaking event during a show.  The kind of stuff no one sees coming, but we're right there, capturing it all as it happens - raw and unfiltered.

Like any new platform, the overwhelming majority has been "Man, that's really cool!" and people just enjoying something because it's new. Others don't get it. But the rare few that see the potential are the lucky ones. The bigger picture implications are really neat.

At any rate, have a look at the embedded clip from tonight's show and let me know what you think.  I'm interested in your thoughts.

KUAM goes pay-per-view

WHOA NELLY FURTADO!  Say it ain't so, Jas!

Sorry for scaring you....to clarify, we're not going all-out pay-per-view where you can't watch anything without shelling out your hard-earned money.  But we are debuting a rad new platform this weekend, something I've been working on for awhile now.  Best of all, we're coming out of the gates with all guns blazing - with our live coverage of the IIAAG high school football championship game between the FD Friars and Sanchez Sharks.  

So here's the deal: you can watch the title game on KUAM-TV11 or streaming on KUAM.com, both live, starting at 7pm this Saturday Guam time (4am Saturday EST/11pm Friday in Hawaii) just like you would any other program.  (I'm doing play-by-play with Double D handling color commentary and Brant roving the sidelines.)  As a value-added bonus, DOCOMO Pacific subscribers with 3G service will get to catch the game on-demand immediately after via their mobile phones.   

But if the time difference forces you to miss the game, if you're a diehard fan of either team, a proud parent, or the game winds up being an I-gotta-see-that-again instant classic, like many do, you'll be able to purchase the game the next day for $20.  You'll need a credit card, a PayPal account and broadband Internet access; you can download the entire game, yours to keep and enjoy forever.  

It's a great alternative to traditional purchased copies, which take a couple of days, available only on DVD, and only during business days.  With PPV, you get a great game in high-res digital format, straight to your desktop in about 7 minutes - day or night.

It's phased, segmented access that's really convinient, very affordable and truly unbeatable.  We're starting to release more of our original local programming as exhibits for sale after they've had their run over traditional TV.  This is the latest extension to our KUAM Broadband service, which started out as a series of MP4-based podcasts, eventually growing into a multifaceted video delivery service, including live video streams, microchunking, mobile video, and now, PPV.

So make sure to tune in...and see you on the gridiron!

Revenge of the nerds

One of the more intriguing subplots I've enjoyed this college football season has been the success of the "braniac" schools.  You know, the programs known more for their academic rigor than gridiron prominence.  

Vanderbilt, Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Baylor and Tulane saw impressive on-field accomplishments, only to be ultimately washed away into the sea of mediocrity by conference dominance; put in their rightful place by schools with more natural talent.  It works out...these schools openly encourage student-athletes to pursue the chance to become the next John Oppenheimer rather than fill their heads with pipe dreams about being the next Danny Wuerffel.

The thing I've always liked about such schools that Barron's categorizes as Most Competitive is their fanbase.  The signs are just so much more creative.  And they know their role...when teams get a little good, they revel in the moment.  Commodores fans earlier this year held up signs that said "You've got the girls, we've got the SATs" to Auburn fans.  Classic.  Baiting an opposing team's quarterback with "If you can read this, don't mess up!" is another gem.  

In Darwinian fashion, the high-IQ teams have collectively fallen back into their naturally-selected places.  And it doesn't appear as if we'll have one make a major bowl....no repeat of the Darnell Autry-led Wildcats making their Rose Bowl run of 1996 (only to be beat by USC, mind you).  So we're back to the predictable crop of Ohio State, Florida, Alabama and the like adorning the Top 25.  

But it was fun to see, even if for a few weeks.

Mondays have always been my Sundays

Sunday....the day of rest?  Well, maybe for you and about 15 million other people.  Not I, said the rat.

I've never really took it easy on the last day of the week (or first, depending how you configure Outlook, ba-dum-bum!).  This is mainly because of the time difference between Guam and the States, so you'll still find me chugging along on the Sabbath, trying to ply my trade and capitalize on capitalism, appealing to the much larger and much more lucrative mainland market while they're still at it.  

Being a sportswriter, Sundays on Guam are college football time for the States, so I'm up all day taking notes, watching games and doing ad hoc analysis.  When I got involved with church, Sundays were filled with activity.  Then in my grad school years, I'd work like a madman on papers, research and projects on Sundays.

So Mondays are my day to slow down.  I grab some fast food, watch SportsCenter about 3 times back to back, and just veg.

The whole point of this diatribe?  Nothing, really.  I'm here at work, but not quite.  I'm basically saying don't bother me today...I'm resting.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

My Heisman ballot

Working in a Market Upon Whom Nielsen's Holy Light Does Not Shine, I unfortunately don't get to vote for the Heisman Trophy.  This is one of those seasons where the best and/or most prestigious programs don't necessarily sport the best single player on their roster.  'Bama, Penn State, Georgia or USC don't have anyone that make my list.  As good as the SEC's been this year, only Gainsville sports any Heismanworthy talent (and I gave them two). 

So for what it's worth, here's my honest - and ultimately useless - list of frontrunners.  
  • Colt McCoy, Texas
  • Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
  • Javon Ringer, Michigan State
  • Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
  • Graham Harrell, Texas Tech
  • Percy Harvin, Florida
  • Tim Tebow, Florida
  • Max Hall, BYU
  • The entire Boise State backfield
The winner?  That's where it gets tough.  McCoy's the best overall player and except for that little West Texas roadtrip to Lubbock has dominated and come up huge when he's needed to.  But once again, we're faced with the rhetorical argument of justifying giving college football's most coveted prize to a player who's lost a game.  Harrell's got his number there, and on paper has put up better numbers.  And even at that, Bradford's outginned McCoy, too.  Slingin' Sam's putting up the most gawdy aerial attack since the Spurrieresque Gators of the mid-90's.

But Red Raider fans shouldn't jump for joy and clear out the trophy case just yet - regrettaby for Texas Tech and Florida, their two candidates cancel each other out.  Crabtree/Harrell and Tebow/Harvin negate each other's chances the same way OU's Jason White/Adrian Peterson did four years ago.

Hall is playing lights out...in a conference no one's skipping work to watch.  Likewise, Ringer has done a lot with a little, but the Big Ten is pathetic overall this year.

So factoring intangibles like conference competitiveness, statistics, strength of schedule, making big plays when they had to...I'd still favor Colt McCoy.  His numbers are very impressive, his accuracy uncanny for the Big 12, and he's been a true leader for the Longhorns.  If TTU loses to Oklahoma State tonight, it's a lock.  That said, I've got no problem is Graham Harrell got it.   He's earned it.

Oh, and the guy I had as my pre-season Heisman winner?  West Virginia's (6-2) Pat White.  Can I pick 'em or what? 


EPILOGUE:
One last note - my hope is that we have the normal five finalists this year.  I thought it sucked how last yeat only Colt Brennan, Tebow and Mizzou's Chase Daniel got the invite to NYC.  As a TV guy, I like the pomp & circumstance production and backstory behind each player.  Have a full list, and it makes for a better show. 

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Server and client. And client. And client. And client. And client.

...hopefully, you're getting the picture.  One of the things that makes web development (a relative term in today's lexicon, to be sure) so demanding is the sheer number of platforms that we've got to at least consider, if not fully dive into when developing online services.

In the past it the major questions used to be format-based: text or multimedia?  QuickTime, WMV or Flash Video?  Then our collective intelligence became access-driven, wanting to timeshift and placeshift just about everything, really leaning hard on on-demand content.  Now, it's all about spanning open data across as many calling clients as possible.

Engineers like the challenge of making information relavant to yet another type of device.  Marketers see the benefit in having multiple stages to monetize.  Developers like the competitiveness or total exposure.

For example, I'm sketching out the distribution scheme for a new automated social networking event reminder system that's primarily web-based, but accessible from a great variety of other devices and platforms.  Here's the platforms I'm now looking at building out and supporting:
  • World Wide Web
  • RSS
  • Mobile
  • Texting
  • E-mail
  • RIA
  • Instant messaging
  • Twitter
  • API
  • Widgets (JavaScript and/or Flash)
  • Firefox extensions
Pretty daunting, huh?  And although the majority of the platforms are derived from the HTML/CSS/JavaScript "stack" (with the exception of IM and possibly widgets), this is the world in which we web developers live.  That's why it's so challenging to set up a site these days.  Anything less than the above and you're toast.  Just imagine a user getting onto your service and thinking how cool it is, and then cursing your name when he can't get to it from her iPhone.  Or she can't integrate it with her Facebook account.  Or it won't load properly on her PSP.  Get it?

Web 2.0 jockeys are quick take the "that's why releasing a solid API is so important" defense.  And to some degree, this has a lot of merit.  Let people out there extend your core service by building an infinite number of utilities around your core product.  It worked nicely for del.icio.us, Digg, Flickr and YouTube.  

But I'm of the mindset that also building a suite of cross-platform, multimedia, multidevice services is critical, regardless if you're talking about a gig out of someone garage or across the enterprise.

Give it some thought.

Guam FINALLY gets mobile WiFi

Anyone that spends at least 5 minutes talking tech to me knows that for years my major gripe has been the fact that Guam ISPs and wireless providers weren't making wireless broadband Internet access available.  Having worked in telecom for a spell many moons ago, I realize that it's not easy - the infrastructure's expensive, the margins low, the volumes high.

I hated the fact that you could only get online at speeds that those of us in the digerati deem acceptable by being within a WiFi hotspot.  Sadly, this was limited to only a few areas, many of which inconviniently placed.   So you can imagine my joy when I reported how IT&E and DOCOMO Pacific (formerly Guamcell) have released their own 3G mobile broadband access, via EVDO and HSDPA, respectively.

At KUAM, we've been privvy to test both networks, and although I haven't personally used IT&E's WiFi, which works over USB mobile cards, I've been running DOCOMO's service on a BandLuxe WCDMA/HSDPA 3.5G ExpressCard (or as I like to call it, "PCMCIA Jr."). 

I've heard spotty reviews of IT&E's coverage, being limited only to a few villages at the moment. I've roamed with the DOCOMO all over the place and not had problems with connectivity.  As far as throughput goes, both services promise you 7.2Mbps, but I've not seen that type of speed yet (in fact, SpeedTest says my connection at home in Tumon is about 856K, which is 4x slower than my office LAN and about half the speed of a decent ISP account through a wireless router).  YouTube clips, the litmus test for any sort of Internet connection, running slightly behind their download speed upon playback, making for the occasional chug.  But for basic page browsing, it's snappy.

Bandwidth can be added, so I'm not worried if the plans don't exactly make you speed demons yet.  I'm just glad someone finally went out on a limb and did it.  And the crowd, mark my words, goes wild.

Now if someone would have the good sense to create a monthly plan that has upload speeds greater than 1Mbps, without those of us looking to do online gaming or host home servers without being forced to lease a T-1, this would rock.  New York City has service that's 15Mbps down/5Mbps up for $150/month.  Look into it.

Entertaining a Vatican audience

In keeping tabs on our live webcast of this morning's special mass from Hagatna, I'm doing reverse lookups on everyone watching us, and I'm stoked to see that of the several hundred that have accessed the live stream, a huge number are from Italy and Poland.  This makes perfect sense, as two of three priests being ordained today are from the Rome and Sicily. 

(Congrats, BTW.)  

Now, you can say what you want about web analytics and their relative fickleness in not being able to profile the true traffic of an online property, but I still gravitate more towards this end than the old Nielsen way of doing things.  Sure, I can't accurately ascertain demographic data like age, gender, mean household income or active interactivity, but it's still cool to be able to extract certain informatio, even if for honks and giggles.

On that trivial note, I'm also going to be happy to report to my producers that the vast majority of our audiences were away from Guam, lest our online platform cannibalize our televised core compentency.  (In less MBA-ish terms, people locally still watch TV.)

Up from the abyss

Hey everyone! Yes, it's good to be back. I know, I know, it's been an eternity since I posted anything, and I even started writing on KUAM's blog about stuff we've been into. But I'm back and looking forward to sharing more thoughts.

The last 11 months have been, in a word, intense.  It's been non-stop projects-following-projects, what with out web site revamp, election coverage, launching mobile video, restructuring our uer-generated content platform, building neat apps for integrated telethons, and developing new stuff that's coming out all the time.  It was fun, but certainly took it's toll.  One such new feature is our live streaming webcasts, one of which I'm sitting here in Camp Happy and monitoring now.

So suffice it to say I'm glad to be able to get back into the "normal" swing of things (whatever that means).  I look forward to interacting with you.

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