Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple's new tablet (iPad)

Why no camera? And why the huge bezel and 4:3 display? /sigh

Monday, September 18, 2006

Why do we buy movies?

Serious question. I know people with huge DVD collections. I don't know anyone with a good reason to have a huge DVD collection. What's the point? How many times do we really rewatch a movie within the lifetime of a given media technology? Yeah, I've touched on this before with the HD DVD vs. Blu Ray post. It still bugs me. The new iTunes and Amazon Unbox movie purchase options made me want to ask the question again. I installed iTunes 7 just to try it. I bought Grosse Point Blank. It looks ok, I guess. Not quite DVD quality, but good for the bitrate. And it plays reasonably well on the laptop I use, though there is some tearing of the image when there are fast horizontal image transitions, and it does stall and stutter if there's any other I/O going on, which is not true of WMP/DiVX/normal Quicktime media. It looks better than the last movies I rented from Movielink or CinemaNow. I'd be satisfied with the quality if it was for a cheap 24-hour rental, but there's no way I'll buy another movie that way. DVD prices for less-than-DVD quality, flexibility or ubiquity. The only upside I see is that with electronic delivery of purchased movies is the better than average chance that you'll lose all those idle, wasted purchases in a hard disk crash, which will at least save you the trouble of unloading all those unwatched DVDs you might have bought at your next garage sale. Seriously, why buy these things?

Subscription model music and 24-hour rental movies, electronically delivered - that's the future. Well, it's the future that I'll buy into at least. Urge or Yahoo Music, with Movielink or CinemaNow movie rentals, until better, cheaper options come along. Oh, and while we're on the subject - Movielink and CinemaNow listen up! Give me better quality and selections before someone else steals your thunder. Take a page from the music guys - electronic delivery frees you up to take advantage of the Long Tail(tm). Take advantage of that. I want access to EVERY MOVIE EVER MADE, in high quality, as rentals. Not your currently lame selection of late-model also-rans in almost-HQ. Get serious or move over for someone better.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It seems so simple....

Someone make a computer with the Mac Mini's form factor, the new Intel Core 2 processor and a decent video chip. Please. Intel's integrated video is just awful for doing anything remotely intensive. This can't be difficult. The Mac laptops have an ATI 1600 video chip. The new Core 2 processors are a drop in replacement for the Core Duos. It seems so easy....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Arm them!

Iraq needs more guns. So does Iran. And North Korea. And Sudan. Lots of other places, too.

Sound crazy? Tell that to the fifty workers kidnapped by "insurgents" in Baghdad this morning. It's a distressingly common pratice. Sometimes they are released, or ransomed. Often they are murdered and dumped somewhere, to be discovered later. And it would never happen if they were armed.

How many Rwandan Tutsi and moderate Hutus of the nearly one million killed during the worst part of the genocide would be alive today if they had been armed? Would you want to be an unarmed black non-Muslim in Darfur, Sudan?

But aren't these places already awash in guns? Yes. And those guns aren't going away any time soon. Local governments and international know-nothings are suprisingly effective at disarming the victims of the muderers, rapists, kidnappers, etc., thus paving the way for further and greater crimes, but completely useless when it comes to disarming the criminals. In many cases, the local governments are the criminals, or are closely allied with criminal groups.

If you really want the world to be a better place, here's what we should do. Take every dime now being spent on the U.N. and instead manufacture simple, reliable single-shot handguns and distribute them to every adult on the planet who wants one. Make ammunition freely available. Make it widely know that if you use your modern-day Peacemaker, you are going to be held accountable and will have to explain your actions or face prosecution. Make it a crime to misuse these guns or disarm anyone without due process, with serious penalties for violations.

This isn't a perfect world, and it's never going to be. It could, however, be a world where potential murderers, rapists and kidnappers know that there are no easy victims. A world where monsters are met with strength and determination - where every potential victim has a way to defend themselves. And we should make it so.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Screw 'em redux

If the product planners at Microsoft are half as astute as I think they are, you will soon be able to buy nearly any kind of digital content using their "Live" services via your Xbox 360/Media Center PC combo. And I'm not talking about just audio and video. This is how they are going to beat Sony - it won't matter the the Xbox 360 has 'only' a standard DVD drive, if no one buys pre-recorded media anymore. Want the next Halo? Click 'buy' on your 360, and the code package gets delivered to your Media Center PC, all nicely protected by DRM, and the Xbox 360 can pull the code from there - no media required. Spiderman 3? Same thing. If they do this right, the Xbox 360/Media Center PC/Xbox Live combination can completely re-invent how we access digital content of all types. And with Microsoft's proven track record of using DRM in ways we can live with, unlike Sony and most of the entertainment industry, I'm willing to bet that people find the value proposition with Microsoft much better than what Apple will offer. I don't want to be locked into iPods. If we have to have DRM, and I don't see any way around that, at least let's have DRM from a company who understands that once we buy content, we should be free to move it between our various devices.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

HD DVD vs. Blu-ray? Screw 'em!

I've bought my last pre-recorded video on physical media. Here's to the post-physical-media future!

The next big winner in the content wars will be the company who offers the most compelling value-proposition on access to on-demand content over the internet. Content protection will be part of that offering, of course, but that protection will be compatible with the way we use content now - in other words, it won't prevent me from moving the content around among my various devices, and it won't lock me into a single-vendor solution.

Nothing about this is very difficult, technically. All of the pieces are out there. First one to put them all together wins.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Festivus Now!

Christmas is under attack, we're told, by the usual suspects. Hippies, basically. Multi-culti left wingers, determined to stamp out anything that smacks of Western, imperial, white, Christian, traditional, Anglo, capitalist, parochial, patriotic, meritocratic, individualist, globalist, colonialist repression. No more "Merry Christmas!" in schools, Christmas trees in public spaces, etc. Whew!

Sigh. Newsflash! - for most people, "Merry Christmas!" and "Happy Holidays!" are interchangable expressions, and have been for years. Santa Claus, Christmas trees, etc., are part of a secular holiday that, while connected with the Christian religious celebration, is also thing unto itself. We have no problem understanding this, just like people have managed to understand how civil marriage and a "church marriage" are related but separate things.

If someone says to me "Happy Chanukah!", I may wonder why they think I'm Jewish, but I wouldn't be offended. Are non-Christians really offended when they hear "Merry Christmas!"? If so, they are very rare exceptions, in my opinion. "Happy Holidays!" is always there, of course, if you want to be non-sectarian, but that plural and the breathy consonance weaken it as an exclamation. It's time for Festivus!

Yeah, just like in that Seinfeld episode. Non-denominational, inclusive, whacky, made-for-TV Festivus; it's a holiday for everyone. It's singular, and the F makes it cool! "Fantastic Festivus!" "Funky Festivus!" "Freaky Festivus!" "Fabulous!" Even "F-word Festivus!", if you're in a bad mood. You can't go wrong with this holiday. Bothered by the "official" Festivus traditions? Make up your own - who's gonna stop you? If they even try, just grab your Festivus Pole and make them think again! "Fighting Festivus!" "Furious Festivus!" "Festivus Freedom Forever!"