There’s been some speculation about whether or not Apple will make some video content available on iTunes on a dynamic pricing model or not. Personally, I think it’s a good idea.
Now I know what you’re thinking – “Hey Bob, WTF – doesn’t that mean we’ll be paying more for all that gooey video goodness?” Yes and no.
Think about it for a second – if everything was $1.99 per download – then the studios would say “it’s not enough” and would limit the content. On the flip side, if the studios thought $4.99 was a better price, say, for an episode of The Sopranos then people could vote with their feet and just not buy it. Once the numbers trailed off – the studio could then lower the price back to $2.99 and see what happens.
Sure, there will be some pissed off people who bought the $4.99 episode when the price goes down to $2.99 – but if it was worth $4.99 when you downloaded it – it’s probably actually worth $4.99 to you now.
Just have a look at the iPhone. It came out at a higher price, and then they lowered the price (much to the chagrin of those early adopters) to boost demand. And – it WORKED.
So you may not be enough of a fan of a show to fork over $2.99 for an episode, but what if they dropped the price (for a limited time – or for a couple of pilot episodes) to $0.49? Would you be interested then? Maybe.
And that’s good for everyone. You get a “deal” on a show that you’ve never seen – or one that sounds interesting that you would have never really watched – and the studios then have to “earn” your viewership of future episodes by keeping the quality of the show high.
I’ll admit – there is still something sort of FUD factor when an episode of 24 goes for $1.99 one day, then $2.14 the next and $1.61 the next. But the point is – as a series becomes more popular, then the studios have a bigger upside and they can test market prices – or aggressively try to stimulate demand for a new series or movie – by playing with the prices.
In the end, that whole market-driven thing is good for everyone.
It may or may not come as a surprise, but the music industry is out for your wallet – again – I mean still. It seems that the unlocked MP3 game isn’t making them as much money as they
expected hoped for will settle for.
So, they have a new latest-and-greatest idea: “Let’s RENT songs to people.” Yep, now they want to the be Hertz or Avis of the online media world.
Now that you can finally (through huge fits, starts and lawsuits) actually buy DRM-free music and listen to it, download it and *gasp* burn it to CD – they want to turn the model on its head. The only downside is – people will have to think it’s a great idea and actually use the “service.”
The premise here is that people don’t really want to “own” music – they just want to listen to it. So, let’s give them a way to “buy” (the rights to listen to) a song for ten cents each. Then, we’ll put it into a “locker” for them – and they can listen to that song as many times as they want.
As long as they’re online.
Yep, no rights to download to anything, no rights to burn, no rights to nothin’ – just to listen to it via a browser. And, after you’ve ponied up the cash – you can just hope that the company (Lala) will be there a year from now. If not, then thanks for the cash – sorry, you’re S.O.L.
Does this sound nuts – to anyone other than me?
Apparently not to Warner Music Group – who quietly invested US $20 million into Lala late last year (2007). At that time they also agreed to put printed advertisement for Lala into 25,000,000 CDs in exchange for the right to greater ownership, and the good folks at Lala have managed to raise a whopping US $34.7 million in funding.
So, will people go for it? I hope not! What kind of half-baked idiot would pay ten cents per tune when there are other services like Napster, Imeem or even YouTube? If you only want streaming – there are all-you-can-eat plans for under US $13 per month – that’s the same as “buying” 130 songs onLala.
It’s a pretty stupid idea, if you ask me. I think people want to actually buy their music and and do with it what they would do with any other type of purchased music: download it, rip it, burn it AND play it on their computer. If you’re not one of them – or just have money burning a hole in your pocket – here’s a secret URL you can use to check it out for yourself.
Well, the details are a bit sketchy – but a new company (founded in 2007) called Cam-Trax seems to have done the impossible – made the webcam relevant.
The company says it has made some software that will enable any webcam to track any object in realtime (in three dimensions!) that you can use to control any PC video game.
There’s not really a lot on their single page website besides a YouTube video – and you can’t download anything yet – hopefully it’s the real deal.
But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Looks like they’re young uber-wonks who just write code but could learn a few things about Marketing 101:
- Before a launch, have more than a single page site
- Have a flash demo of how you set it up – or at least a YouTube video
- Give some details about what cameras you’ve tested, what OS it runs on, etc.
- If the software isn’t yet ready for prime time download, say when it will be
- Do at least a one page PDF with the details of the founders, the estimated price of the software, timeframes, etc.
To be fair, perhaps they didn’t realize that they would get any real notice or press – but with the speed of the Internet and such a novel use of (languishing)webcam tech – it’s better to be prepared to put your best foot forward, in CASE you get lucky and get some free buzz.
In any event, I think the promise for this type of tech is awesome – and not just for gaming. I can imagine uses for the disabled, or kids (OLPC), etc. I’m hoping in the next few weeks (or days) that there is more to come – including a download (I’d love to try it out for myself).
What about it guys? When can we get some of that camera-lovin’ goodness?
Maybe Microsoft was having a “DF” day – as they did a 180 on their stance of supporting both ODF (Open Document Format) and PDF (Portable Document Format) in Office.
You see, ODF is the file format of OpenOffice and StarOffice – competitors to the 800 pound gorilla – Microsoft Office. So, rather than agreeing to support the ODF (which is already an ISO standard) – Microsoft fought to get their own file format (OOXML – Office Open XML) approved as an ISO standard as well. Which they managed to do (on April 1, 2008 – April FOOL’S DAY!) – although there are some grumblings and upcoming challenges to the ISO board by South Africa and others.
Seems MS didn’t want to give people using – *gasp* – free Office-like tools the ability to actually interoperate with folks who ponied up the cash for the “real” Office suite.
Then, they went ahead and did the same thing with PDF. Seems that MS is not really that fond of paying royalties to others for their technologies – and Adobe really started to piss them off with their demands for revenue and their AIR/Flex/Flash suite. So, Microsoft came up with its own XML Paper Specification (XPS) as a result.
No, really – they did.
Good idea! Let’s re-invent yet another standard – and make it Windows-only! Brilliant!
They did the same kind of thing with C# – it’s basically a direct rip-off of Java – that they did for the same reason – lock developers into a Windows-only environment. They also didn’t like the fact that they wanted to “extend the standard” Java – but not through plug-ins or just extra jar files (like everyone else) – but they wanted to muck with the core and Sun said no.
So, Microsoft just took their dollies and went home and came up with C#.
Now, it looks like Microsoft’s changed their minds – and has agreed to support both ODF and PDF in their Service Pack 2 release that is due in the first half of 2009.
Are they just feelin’ groovy? Has the voice of reason and not fear been heard in the hallowed halls? Maybe.
However, I think it has more to do with New York state officially promoting ODF as a standard file format based on customer demand as it launched a new initiative for technology openness and open standards earlier this week. I think that Microsoft is finally seeing the writing on the wall: “If we don’t support these standards that were created by the other (explicative) vendors – we’ll be screwed by local, state and (eventually) the feds.”
Read my lips: your bloatware isn’t the only game in town anymore. People will not keep paying $500 a throw for it forever.
Microsoft needs to get over their “not invented here” syndrome and knock down some of those interoperability walls. They should be the best integrator of the best-of-breed technologies that people are already using.
For example, the default format for stuff on the Mac is PDF. It just saves it that way by default, not as an after thought, or as a type of printer or any of that nonsense. This simple ability to save in PDF allows Mac users to share stuff and email/post/share content right away. That’s part of their their competitive advantage and is just part of the whole ease-of-use thing.
I must admit that this is a good first step for Microsoft – and I hope we’ll see see them take the lead in integrating standards rather than re-inventing the wheel for everything.
Today is Memorial Day in the US – a national holiday where we Americans are supposed to take time to remember and reflect on the thousands who gave their lives in the name of our country and the freedoms it represents.
For most of my life – it was a really abstract concept – and a great excuse to get a day off from school or work. Oh sure, I’d observe a moment of silence and reflect upon it, but then it would completely slip from my conscience thoughts and that would be that.
Then there was Desert Storm. I was living in Bakersfield, CA at the time, and when the soldiers came home – the town basically shut down and everyone went to the downtown area and lined the streets. There were yellow ribbons, everyone waved flags, held up homemade banners and really went all out to welcome back the troops.
I was in the front row, and I could see just how thankful and overwhelmed these kids (for the most part) were. They went out to do a job in a foreign country – and while not everyone agreed on the politics involved – they sure agreed that welcoming people who put their lives on the line was a good thing. And it was!
Then there was 9/11. I watched on TV as the second plane hit the second tower – LIVE with a lot of America. I stayed glued to the TV as the devastation continued through out the day. When I found out the planes were hijacked – I got angry. I think we all did.
When we sent people into Iraq to kick ass and take names – it seemed like the logical thing to do. As I watched CNN while the first bombs were dropped – I was feeling a bit smug and horrified at the same time. It’s one thing to watch it on TV, and a whole ‘nother thing to actually think about and understand what the actual, live, human people were doing in going over there.
Some time later I saw the HBO series “Band of Brothers” and also, probably the most eye-opening and shocking – “Saving Private Ryan“. These films really affected me. The true horror of war – and the true sense of duty (even though I realize they were just movies) – really became apparent to me.
The fact that these are real people with real lives, real families. They were babies, toddlers, teenagers. They went to prom, got their first car, their first kiss. Some got married, had their own children, were expecting their first child or grandchild. These were real people. With real hopes, dreams, cares and burdens.
And, in the blink of an eye their whole life is just ended.
Just… like… that.
And why? For what? For the very things that I, for one, take for granted: the right to be free. Free to say what I want (e.g. this blog), watch what I want, the right to believe in God, the right to have a say in the way this country is run, the right to be and do what seems right to me.
And they – and their families – and their loved ones – and their unborn children – and their wives/husbands – they paid the price. Whether they were killed in battle, or physically or mentally scarred for life – they all did the job – the VOLUNTARY job that they signed up for. The choice they made to help defend our country – regardless of role or branch of service – was and is an awesome one.
On behalf of me and my family – I just wanted to say Thank You.
P.S. – T0 CPL Wyatt Fulkerson (son of Bob and Oliva “Levy’ Fulkerson in Somis, CA) – I’m so very glad you’re back home after your tour in Japan and Iraq. It was great to see you this weekend – and I’m relieved to hear you’ll be re-deployed here in the US for at least the next year. Thank you for your service!
I don’t want to sound like the Andy Rooney of social networking – but, I just don’t get it. I spent some middle-of-the-night time this weekend trying my darndest to figure it out.
I updated my Facebook profile, I added people to my Twitter account, updated my LinkedIn profile, sent a Jott and then I spent a bunch of time (literally 4+ hours) reading profiles of other people who are “connected”, or “linked” or “are friends of” the people I know.
Here’s what I found out:
- I’m not the most social person ever invented
- Everybody in the world knows more people than I do
I also determined that most (not ALL) the people that I have linked to my various online profiles – must have a helluva’ lot of down time. I mean, I can barely find time to write this blog – never mind keep up on 5 different social networking sites, posting things, updating things, pinging, twittering, twirling, and flickring.
I can understand it if you’re a journalist, PR person, marketing person, recruiter, etc. But 99% of these folks are none of the above. I mean REALLY! People! Wow! Let me know the jobs you have that allow that much free time.
I can understand if you wanted to join one of these services because your friends are there – and it’s a way to “hang out” without really doing anything… ummm… together… but I would still rather watch an episode of Lost – than obsess over who is doing what – RIGHT NOW(!).
And wow – how much personal information do you really want to share? I hear all sorts of people piss and moan about how little privacy there is in the world these days, how all these nameless, faceless corporations are putting up all sorts of personal information for sale to the highest bidder.
But some of these people are doing it to themselves. Lots of people give waaaayyyy too much information about themselves in all these social networking profiles. I’m not sure I really need to know your turn-ons and turn-offs, and what you had for dinner last night. If I did – I’d either call you – or send you an email.
OK, so I’d send you an email…
The main reason I didn’t post on Thursday is because I got my first experience using Vista. Mind you – I’m a diehard XP user – and I’m not about to EVER install Vista on my own personal machine – but I set out to help a colleague who needed a print driver installed.
It was easy enough – or so I thought. Just go to the Dell site, download the driver, double-click, put in the printer IP address and done.
OK – so finding and downloading the driver took about 10 minutes (not bad). The instructions from the Dell site for the 1710n print driver installation:
- Double-click the new icon on the desktop labeled R147083.zip.
- The Self-Extracting window appears and prompts you to extract or unzip C:\DELL\DRIVERS\R147083. Write down this path so the executable (I.e. Setup.exe) file can be found later.
- The Self-Extractor window appears.
- Click OK.
- After completing the file extraction, if the Self-Extractor window is still open, close it.
- Click the Start button and then click Run.
- Type C:\DELL\DRIVERS\R147083 in the Open textbox and then click OK.
- Follow the on-screen installation instructions.
These directions are very specific, and on the surface, look very helpful. Until you actually try to follow them.
First of all – it assumes you’re using a circa 1998 OS that doesn’t have the built-in .zip utility that treats the file like a folder. Second of all there IS NO “Setup.exe” in the download. Instead, there are two .exe files with stupid names that mean nothing to a person that doesn’t work at Dell.
OK – so I do what any self-respecting geek would do – pick the first one, and double-click and see what happens. This is where the glory of the Vista experience starts to play out.
As soon as I double-click – Vista gives me a warning dialog that verifies I want to run an installer. It helpfully suggests that installers can “install applications” and those applications can do bad things to your computer – so don’t blame us if you hose yourself.
With a chuckle, I murmur “cute” under my breath and proceed to install. As soon as that dialog is dismissed there is another one from “Windows Defender”. I need to click to give this program access to install itself – because, you know, installers can install applications, and applications might hose your computer, so don’t blame us!
Slight chuckle again.
So this beast installs itself and opens the “Add printer” wizard. Of course there are no Dell print drivers on a Toshiba machine, but the “Have Disk” option isn’t there (like on the old Win 2000 and below wizard). Then I notice that Dell helpfully launched an instructional window with instructions that include the admonition to click the “Have Disk” button and follow the prompts.
Ummmm… there is no “have disk” button. So, I clicked the “Cancel” button to exit the installer (so I could Google and find where the “Have Disk” button went in Vista.
Then, Vista helpfully tells me it appears as if the installer didn’t finish all the way and do I want to re-launch it. Ummm… NO. That’s why I clicked “cancel.” Thanks for trying to be helpful, but if you don’t know what I intentionally did (click “cancel”) – then don’t try to “help” me.
OK – so I found out that you have to click “local printer” (even though this was a network printer), and then when it can’t find anything, you click “Next” and then you have the “Have Disk” button.
Right. That’s intuitive.
So, I relaunch the installer – get the same helpful warnings as before, get to the “Have Disk” button – specify the directory the driver is in… everything says it’s ready – and I print a test page.
Or try to. Nothing happens.
Then the print queue errors. The good news is that I get a helpful Vista dialog telling me that there was an “unknown” print error. HEY! Thanks! Wow! Helpful!
Now, I’m not the most geeky geek ever, and I only have a novice understanding of Windows (after 10 years using it) – but I know how to go into the printer control panel and muck with the port settings. So I go to the control panels – try to open the Printers – and Vista gives me yet another “warning” and asks if it’s OK to modify the resource.
Slightly cursing under my breath now – I click yes, and muck with the port setup, etc.
So it now works – and printing is fine.
Then there was an issue with the wireless network – it wasn’t connecting. So, I went into the wireless connection panel, and simply wanted to check the settings for the wireless setup. Guess what? Yep, Vista helpfully informed me that WiFi is dangerous and people can steal your crap and don’t blame us if you hose your computer.
Ok. The connection settings were correct – then it showed a “Wireless connection troubleshooter” link. Finally! This is helpful! In context! When I actually need help! Click…
The help loads – cursor spins, the “Wireless connection troubleshooter” help topic appears… then… a message:
“The help file you requested cannot be found because you are not connected to the Internet.”
I am NOT kidding. If I were able to connect to the Internet, I wouldn’t need this help topic!
I get the fact that Microsoft is getting its ass kicked for being a leaking toxic tank of security flaws, patches, fixes, bubble gum and bailing wire – but if they take 6 years to “re-write” their operating system – you would think it would be better, not worse.
If you want to include these “helpful” dialogs and wizards – make DAMN SURE that:
- They actually work
- The user has the ability to turn them off in an EASY way
- Make them smart enough to know what the user intended to do (or has intentionally done)
or SHUT UP and don’t try to be “helpful.”
I finally got everything working in SPITE of Vista, not because it helped, nor was easy, nor guided me through the process. I got it (and everything else I tried) to work because I’m a bit geeky and generally know what to touch and what not to touch – after 10 years of experience.
I just absolutely SHUTTER at the thought that new computer users – or people who upgrade – or people like my parents will be assaulted by this utterly confusing, dialog-laden, piece of crap as their main way of trying to get their work done (or just surf the net, or whatever).
I’m going to recommend both Macintosh and Ubuntu Linux to all my friends, neighbors, in-laws, and family the next time they ask for OS advice… in fact, my next box just might be a Mac…
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