the valley is behind us

September 27th, 2014

The first realistic rendering of a human in a computer I even laid eyes on got created by Chris Jones in Australia. If Intel would have any sense then they would give him everything he needs so that he can make a super bowl spot.

It is much easier for a director to dial in some emotions on an “Eckman board” rather than trying to coax them out of a drugged up little twat being full of itself. CAA better get their sh*t and required legislation together.

It will take a little while, but this WILL be a big deal: Completely artificial movies that just look like reality.

“Fight Club” in 2013

January 27th, 2013

Watching “Fight Club” again today is a strange and very interesting experience.

So much has changed since the book / film came out. It is clearly set in a different epoch.

Its character ‘Tyler Durden’ says:

God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables;
slaves with white collars.  Advertising has us chasing cars
and clothes, working jobs  we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. 
	
…
	
We've all been raised on television to believe
that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods,
and rock stars. 
	
But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact.
And we're very, very pissed off.

It seemed fitting at the time. What happened since then?

Many of those jobs are gone. People in that slice of society
make less money today. Sometimes even in absolute dollars.
Certainly corrected for inflation. In the same time the share
of the upper sliver of society on the other end of the wealth
distribution has nothing but exploded.

So why seems the portrayed unrest even further removed
from reality than less than a score years ago?

The answer might lie in the proliferation of computer games and the Internet
during that time.

Both soak up all that extra male testosterone and time that would
otherwise find not much constructive application in the world of 2013.

Oh, and it looked absolutely awesome. I miss movies shot on film.

branding and 1 5 year old

January 31st, 2012

I could do without the background music, and the maker probably waited for the climax of a stuffy nose of his kid to record this, but it is still interesting to see just how much logo-sign-language kids pick up and

can identify.

From my own kids I remember that they knew the location of the nearest McDonnalds at a very very early age. They also made the fries / M connection.

medical imaging

December 16th, 2011

So glad I found this great introduction and overview of medical imaging.

I liked the article since it gives a great overview of different techniques together with their genesis. Stuff like a PET scanner does not rain down on humanity. Lots of people needed to work hard to realize it. Ideas, Patents and -as it turns out- the Beatles were needed and involved.

I personally found it fascinating how much ample computation power has enabled. Nothing that mattered in the last 40 years would have been conceivable without massive numerical processing. Even 99.999% of computing power is wasted on Facebook and games it is just awesome that we people deviced instruments to compute so cheaply.

It is probably impossible to estimate the impact that technologies like DfMRI will have on our knowledge and picture of ourselves. The microscope changed the world and each of our lives in the most radical ways. Which might only have dawned on people in the 17th century.

Of course the link was found in Wikipedia. After having set up a monthly donation to them and knowing how good it feels now and will do in the future I wonder why I did not do so earlier. Specially learning new things most Wikipedia pages allow a quick overview about the topic. What I personally really love is how detailed yet concise even very specialized topics are being documented. Quiet brilliant.

1 sided communication

August 23rd, 2010

Leo Laporte realized that he was communicating into /dev/null. It is not surprising that nobody noticed it.

In the pre Internet age dentists with a literary ambition not no corresponding talent could ‘publish’ the book themselves. They dropped a nice amount of cash on a couple of palette of dead trees. Now, in the digital age they just can blog, tweet, update their facebook page. The googlebot might care.

Social media always has been a Ponzi scheme. Much like you run out of fresh suckers in the money ‘making’ enterprises you run out of audience. The difference is that the internet is able to give you the illusion of an audience. It seem that things are working. Everybody in the world COULD find that tweet you just made that is so brilliant.

People and companies alike often fail to look clearly at the actual effort and time that they put into the creation of the content and put it into relation of the size of the actual audience. Luckily failed virals have the built in effect that nobody notices them. But they still exist, and so do millions of tweets that nobody cares about.

The signal to noise ratio of the overall Internet keeps collapsing. People complained about the “Summer of AOL” last century. It is a blessing that we had no idea what was coming our way …

corporate communications

February 21st, 2008

The other day I rented a car since mine was in the shop. The rate was reasonable. Actually a Chevy whatever it’s called is pretty quiet for what it is. National was just accross the street from the shop that my car was in. They really wanted my phone number. I should have known why: They called twice wanted to know how the service was. Thanks for caring. Service had been good, until they started to ask about it. Same with GoDaddy. Their SSL certificates cost 40 while others want 150. It’s still a rip off since it is just a simple script and a tiny little bit of administration to weed out the evil people. Of course they called. And then called again. At 7am. Made me feel real good about filling out the form where you indicate when you like to get called.

And then on the other side of the spectrum there is AT&T. Or actually what appears to be a rather obscure business division of theirs. I picked AT&t as a vendor for my 800 number, thinking that they would be a bit more expensive but easy to deal with. The 800 number is just a little aspect of what I am doing, so why waste much time on it. So I thought. The division provides the service. But is otherwise basically unreachable. They don’t even have a phone number. Nor can I reach them via the internet: Their web forms stopped working. And there is no way that feedback would get to them. Amazing.

paid to blog

December 3rd, 2007

Matt Cutts , the google quality czsar, explains why they reduced the importance of weblogs participating in pay per post programs. I feel the same way and block them since May in BlogsNow.

Interestingly, and extremely simplified, I admit, it seems to be the business model of Google to sell the truth. Which makes it valuable. They steer most of the internet traffic. But if they would fail, people would notice. As long as Yahoo and MSN still exist and could in theory kinda half ass a hypothetical un-ethical google if it came to it, it’s good busyness for for Google to stick to the truth.

Which is not what usually is going on:

A question asked, and no answer:

Same pattern here:

So, my simple reaction is, if people like politicians and Apple-PR are not answering questions, then I will not listen to what they are trying to say. Why should I?

Ma Bell, confused.

December 2nd, 2007

So, I needed an 1-800 number. There are lots of vendors. I picked AT&T. They were not the cheapest, but in telco services there are lots of odd offers and services. And it’s not crucial that number. Just something you also need to have. Getting the number itself was alright. They sent an email that it would take a nebolous amount of time (”several weeks”) before they were able to execute my order.

Months passed. No word from Ma Bell. Diving into voice-system-hell. Finally I got somebody that was the right division etc. He simply proclaimed that the number already worked. Which is great, and it actually did ever since. But they could have let me know.

Then I got an email telling me that I had not logged in their Buisness Website for a while, and that they would disable my login should I not do so within 30 days. So I logged in. A question that is innocent enough came up. AT&T would like to know which state I am. Not that they could deduct that from my address. But hey. Of course entering the info brings me right back to the same screen. Oh, Firefox quirk. Can happen.
Safari: Same result. So, do I have to buy a PC to tell them that I am in California? Of course, there are no links where you could contact that division of AT&T and let them know that they website is simply broken.

Neither is there a way to get in touch with AT&T mentioned in that email announcing me to lock me out of the website unless I would log in in the next thirty. Sure, I could spend an hour on the phone tomorrow with AT&T. Like everywhere, once you reach a human things are not even that bad. There are often ways to fix things.

But the problem is deeper than that: AT&T used to be a technology company. They invented the transistor and a couple of other important things. But in 2007 they can not even run a simple website. It fits in the picture that they spend billions, yes, billions not millions, for rebranding. Making them look to good to the outside. While everybody knows that internally it’s just barely good enough. Since they other telco’s suck equally bad they even get away with it. Time for a company like Apple to get into the cellphone Business. No, wait. Ok, nevermind.

voice to text applications

November 7th, 2007

Since a while I am using Callwave. And I must say that I am very very happy with it. It’s really great to get your voicemails transcribed as an email. I am amazed how far voice to text technology has gotten so far. It’s sometimes humorous. But more importantly, it’s usually possible to ‘get’ the general direction of the voice mail. I know who called, what it was about, and the phone numbers people leave have been without any errors so far. Which is really really helpful.

I also like to have one list of incoming messages. It makes staying on top of things much easier and less stressful. Which is allowing me to spend time with actually doing things instead of reacting to it and managing my message stack and todo lists.

color - owning one

November 6th, 2007

Yes, the T people think they own Magenta

They actually picked when they started the T-stuff so that they could have color in News Paper ads but only pay for one. Since Magenta is part of CMYK they saved millions in the production of newspaper ads.

“Newswhat?” you might ask. Well, it’s that stuff from the last century

delayed

October 22nd, 2007

Rushed to the airport. Packing took longer than expected. La Cienega made up for the time lost. It always does. I love La Cienega. When I park at Red Rabbit I have to turn once!

Of course the flight is delayed. Four hours delayed. Luckily I get a ten dollar NWA mail-in voucher. Score!

The next time Northwest will get in touch to sell me something I will remember that they could not be bothered to contact me, when I could have gained from it. They have my email. It’s freaking computers running airlines anyway. Why can’t they just
send an email out to let me know that the flight is been delayed. Hell, I would not even mind when they always would send me an email. 21% of this specific flight is actually on time. While they are at it they could also let me know which movies they will be showing. Which gate I will arrive where (so that I can forward this info to a person that picks me up). Sure, they could be somewhat smart and allow me to give them an email that would be notified about any changes in the arrival.
Once set up these things cost close to nothing to run.

where are you?

October 21st, 2007

a very nice map of the entire internet
The implementation is maybe soso, but the actual idea to put all 4,294,967,296 IP addresses into a grid is really nice.

A couple of week ago a high res map of internet connections was widely linked to.

Which does remind me of Aaron Koblin and his“Flight Patterns”.

interesting maps
interesting data visualisations

software: finishing it. starting it

October 3rd, 2007

Kyle Wilson wrote an interesting essay about finishing software back in August.

I am wondering why so much great software does not even get started: Since a long time I am using an EVDO modem to connect to the internet. The upside is, that I have Internet wherever I go. If there is the slightest hint of civilisation I can connect to the internet. Which is great. The hardware is smart enough not only to move bits around it also knows where it is. GPS is a rather elaborate system with satelites floating around the planet and all. It is a big commotion, and it works. Just, that the software to connect to that part of the device does not exist on a Mac. With the right amount of documentation a programmer that has done something similar before would only need a few days to program this. And they sold thousands and thousands of these the device. The benefit for my computer to know where exactly I am would be huge. Since I am also connected to the internet a website could replace a 300 US$ GPS device. Still nobody has done it.

The other day I learned that Los Angeles is not storing the traffic data it automatically collects. It is allot of work, and certainly was not cheap, to put all those sensors in place. The data flows to the right places. And then gets simply not archived.

In both cases the effort to add the extra functionality would be ridicolously small compared to the potential gain. In both cases it might never happen: There is no driving force behind it. Nobody is making a living from something similar enough to jump on these opportunities. Even though ideas might be clear and simple, they might never happen, no matter how good they are, as long there is not a similar enterprise already happening. This theory has a sad other side as well: If there is already some kind of business going in certain way, then all sorts of similar activities will be spawned. No matter if they make any sense (Sony’s Mp3 players) or if they are valid for society ( Arms dealer, Mafia, Spam).

visulisations (ways to)

August 2nd, 2007

A nice list of visualsation approaches. Starts boring with known contenders but then had some nice and interesting and new to me links.

300

March 20th, 2007

LA Times about 300, Zodiac Movie critics and audiences.

(I)M

November 28th, 2006

Today AOL must have pushed some new code or spammers have their way at the only service that AOL has to offer that people use. IM stands for Instant Messenger. Today it’s not so instant anymore. Hitting enter and watching the little cloud that is showing me typing for another 4 seconds is just plain lame.

Tricky thing for AOL: They provide the service for millions of people. And nobody knows it is them. Only time they make news is when things break.

into the face with the interface

November 3rd, 2006

“The interface of a cheeseburger” is one of these Blog entries that validate those 30 Million other blogs with random noise in one simple swoop. If you ever contemplated to create anything that get’s used by a human, be it nuclear power plant, condom or breakfirst table for your dearest one, you could find some great insight in this text from Oliver Reichenstein. At least I think it’s by him. While content and form of the text are pretty nice it seems almost a relief that ‘Information Architects Japan’ messed up the branding for themselves. Sticking Lego’s on business cards won’t help either. Die Kinder des Schuhmachers tragen immer kaputte Schuhe.

bravia

October 17th, 2006

Conceptually it was a well intended follow up: Sony’s Bravia commercial using exploding paint instead of many balls.

Execution wise there certainly are amazing explosions. There are few good camera angles. But most of them are, well, uninspired. The idea of using an abandoned housing project is interesting. Somewhat. I have just seen to many of them being blown up. Somehow you expect them to sink together once they become the object of the camera. But it was not this non delivering on the expectation that broke the spot. It was the unispired music choice together with that I call dismal editing. I can only write this, since I have not looked up yet who did it. It’s easier that way. And I am sure it was the usual clusterfuck of decission making or pure lack therof that pushed this brilliant idea of a follow up into the lower ends of mediocricy. The sport lives from the real Bravia. Not more, not less. A typical sequell that can’t deliver. Too bad they blew it.

hacked hacked hacked, an apple got hacked

August 19th, 2006

Few weeks ago lots of people wrote that somebody had hacked a MacBook via Wifi.
There were never much details or example code available. But the need for the story was there, so felt the people, and everybody repeated it. It seems as if the hackers installed 3rd wireless soft- and hardware on the Macbook and then hacked this software.

Which renders the whole thing to a non issue.

Of course all computers can be hacked in theory. Including Macs. But as long it did not happen, it did not happen. I am sure lots of people read the first (non true) part of this ‘hack’ story, and will miss this conclusion. Those will argue in a year from now “Mac’s aren’t safe either” based on this misinterpreted news story.

Getting down to the truth becomes increasingly complex it seems. Much of the communication surrounding people has been made with an intention. Truth comes second. Which IS a big deal, since it invalidates the whole reason for communication. It was communication that got us of the trees. If we break it, since it seems not to matter, then we might have trouble getting back up into the trees. “Sabletooth tiger!” “Where?” “Just kidding, want to buy a coconut?”

open

August 17th, 2006

Microsoft likes more people to develop games for their consoles. In their press release it sounds like a Windows XP machine is all you will need to develop games for their consoles.

The range of impact goes from ‘flash in the pan’ to ‘Sony is finished’. It all depends on the details of the implementation and capabilities. Nobody has ever opened game consoles to a wider development community. It might or might not take off. Trying it is a bold and innovative move.

Microsoft is a funny companies these days: Some of their divisions do all the right things, while others are as stupid as the Ottoman empire in 1907.

Trolltech makes a phone now. Trolltech got big with a toolkit for graphical user interfaces called “Qt”. I used it years ago, and it is not bad. Now they make a phone that runs embedded linux, and their user interface on top of it. In other words it is an open source phone.

From the pure aspect of technology these developments had to happen. The very interesting question is, what will come out of it. Content is a very tricky thing to predict. Hollywood survived despite constant failures in this area. As long the movie industry existed they tried to mechanize and control creativity and content creation, so that they can churn out products like a nuts and bolts manufacturer. And it never worked.

One the other side of the argument one could see Microsoft and Trolltech shipping typewriters to a million monkeys.

And, of course reality will fall somewhere in between. And once the revolution happened, it will be so clear why it did. Same in the other outcome.

Games could really use some injection of innovation. Roaming the show floor of what was the last E3 of it’s kind I was pretty surprised how alike most games looked. I don’t play. But I care about the technology and business side of this industry. There are racing games and first person shooters. Lot’s of those.
With production costs high new content development is tricky. That’s why I liked Rockstar’s Table Tennis.

Tetris was written by a russian programer when there was still a country called “Soviet Union”.

The situation with phones is similar. They don’t suck, but I never saw a phone that made just sense. Of course all Apple fan boys hope that Steve Jobs will come down Moses like with a phone on his arm. They hope so, since phones are ok, but definetely not as useful as we want them to be. And as they could be. If open software can fix this is to be seen.

da eighties

June 19th, 2006

1400 music videos from the 80s.

Haven’t counted them. Flash encoded. Which -of course- sucks. Ripped from various source it seems. Hardly legit. Nenne Cherries “Man child” I missed back then. Interesting how motion-control + green screen was enough back then to be concept. It is a shame that it is not MTV that does make this work acessible. I hope they kept copies of things they did broadcast. Probably on “D2″ tape. Over the last 30 years society has accumulated a huge amount of so called ‘pop’ culture. That video wasn’t cheap. It is not entirely rubbish either. There is just no way to really access it. I am sure as I write this somebody is deleting unknowingly a rare copy of something that will be missed.

thirty million weblogs

March 24th, 2006

Just crossed the thirty Million weblog mark at BlogsNow tracks. Jason installed new memory, CPU and motherboard on the machine eight hours ago. I hope that the random crashes (MCE …4 ) it had are now a thing of the past. But it still could be the raid controller that causes the troubles. We will see.

Thirty million blogs! It’s online since almost two years, ran on three different machines in three different hosting situations.

There are about a quarter million web-pages in google with the term BlogsNow. popurls has roughly the same number. I think popurls started two weeks ago.

I find it very interesting to compare BlogsNow and popurls. The later one shot to internet fame instantly while BlogsNow only caters to a small and very slowly growing audience. Popurls is better than what I wrote in many many hours. The actual implementation of popurls would have taken me a week. Of course I did BlogsNow and not popurls. And also obviously I have hoped for instant internet fame when I wrote the fastest memetracker possible.

Technically I achieved my goal. BlogsNow’ performance is unsurpassed: It will reliably track _everything_ that people talk about. I still like it better than all others.

But let’s have a look why popurls got what BlogsNow wanted so badly and could never get. Popurl’s author is the first to say that the concept of a meta meta tracker is hardly new: diggdot.us paved the way into the mainstream, but I think there have been others.

The implementation of popurls works, it’s simple and nothings gets in the way. The design is what matters. It turns out that the idea of a meta-meta-track added with decent-design adds up to go over the threshold to become a meme in itself.

In the new attention economy you have to raise the interestingness of something above an imaginary threshold. It is almost impossible to push something there. Not even the biggest media buy will get you there. If your concept is not worthy then every person in the chain works against your piece (work, meme whatever it is). The resistance will become infinite. Many companies have wasted millions of ad dollars in the last years by ignoring this simple fact. If your idea raises above this threshold then it will attract more multipliers along the way. It’s too bad that ‘viral marketing’ became such a bad rep, since all agencies attached it to their failing attempt. Real meme’s do indeed work very much like a virus. The big difference is that every ‘host’ has the ability to alter the ‘virus’. We give those links, files and words new meaning when we pass them on. We comment them and make them our own. I could not say that from that last cold I got from someone and also probably gave to somebody else. The term ‘viral’ already contains the arrogance of agencies: They think they just can ‘infect’ the audience and then save their client some money in the media buy. Of course that’s now how it works: Most of their ideas are simply not good enough to compete with what is out there. There were some single incidences where commercials got some viral traction. None of them made room for a follow up. ‘Viral Campaigns’ by their definitions are one hit wonders. With the broadening of the tools and people getting more connected every day the odds move against the traditional marketers use of viral campaigns. Does this have anything to do with a BlogsNow vs. popurls comparison? Hardly. How did we get here?

Popurls became an instant ‘meme’, BlogsNow did not. I think in very simple terms I think it comes down to the fact that design matters. Popurls is an instant hit since it instantly communicates. The natural reaction is :”this is nice. I want to use this.” Within those 2 seconds a website has with a new visitor it is able to convey what is different about it. It tells it’s story well. The ‘elevator pitch’ of the internet must be over before the user blinks another time. There are always ten real and hundreds of potential other sites comparing with the one you are looking at.

My son is seven. He wants to write a computer game. He found google, and was very frustrated, that could not find ANY instructions how to make a computer game for seven year olds after he entered his request into google. I never told him to google it, or even to research it on the internet. His experience is that the internet might as well contain all the answers to everything. It’s this unprecedented amount of instantly available content that is the evolutionary pressure on every meme out there. The pace in that online (media) experiences grow in their quantity, variety and maybe even quality is equally unprecedented. So is the spread of the audience and their level of engagement: 1 person, 1 computer with internet connection, 1 hour. To say that the range of experiences is huge would be an understatement. It is awing. And spreading. We have the user on dial with internet explorer trying to get some news about balinesian dancing to the CEO on a laptop playing WOW while being on a plane. These are not the two extremes. These are two random points in an infinitely complex cloud of usage patterns. Hundred people watch a movie in the cinema. Their experience is pretty similar, they don’t even need to have seen it the same place or at the same time. Watching an old black white movie is almost a time travel experience. Hundred people what the movie on TV and the possibilities broaden. It used to be that the whole country watched the same stuff. There was the concept of a “Straßenfeger” in Germany in the 60s. It meant that a specific radio or TV series had such a big draw that it would ‘clean the streets’ (from people). There are only few events left that can obtain this mass attraction. Hundred people watching the same movie on TV might do so from a DVD, on the seventieth rerun, because their Tivo thought they should be watching it, or just because they are waiting for the show that follow this program. These hundred people might pay attention or might not. Since TVs tend to everywhere and just run after you turned them on, it is also one of the most ignored media outlets there is. Hundred people watching a clip that they got on a computer one way or another will have the most diverse media experience.

It is in this jungle of possibilities that the ability to communicate your idea between two blinks becomes mandatory. The idea needs to be decent, and then it needs to be easy to understand. Popurls instantly tells you that it’s a decent looking meta-meta tracker. Just when you think, ah so many links it kicks some pretty pictures your way. Your peaking ‘into it’ will be rewarded. By the time you have seen the entire page (2.5 seconds into your visit) you will have glimpsed over nine headlines, at least three or four are known items. popurls is a good mix of known and the new. All known is boring and will be clicked over quicker then you can say ‘boring’. All new is confusing. People are usually not curious enough to give new things the time to understand them.

The good design of popurls makes it work. As an engineer I thought that people would understand the aspect that BlogsNow is faster and more comprehensive than anything else. Even though it is, I did not manage to communicate this. And maybe it does not even matter. The first meme trackers got the webs attention, because they were a new concept. The fastest one is not a big deal. It’s functional difference needs repeated use an comparative analysis to understand. Memetrackers are not that important that people would do this sort of analysis. BlogsNow is a classic example for the fact that people and projects overestimate their own importance. Many web 2.0 startups think that they are Moses coming down from the mount Sinai. BlogsNow first goal was that it would keep me up to date with what is going on on the internet. And BlogsNow I can trust and, if needed, even tweak to let it behave better. Enough reason to let it keep going for next thirty million blogs. Popurls is not the first too and certainly not the last tool that will surpass BlogsNow in the amount of web attention it gets. It just is such a clear case that engineering does not really matter. The upside is that it was and is fun to code the fastest Memetracker there is. That, my constant use, and the fact that I have a neat copy of what mattered on the web in the last two years is enough reasons to keep it going. Despite the fact that nobody cares ;-)

mandyc19

February 6th, 2006

mandyc19 seems to be online about 320 hours a day.
She certainly does allot of posting.

First Sony tries to ‘rootkit’ people, then the german BMW website get’s banned from google for spamming and now Nvidia gets in trouble for fake postings.
Oh, I forgot all those wikipedia edits by people working for the US Congress.

It all comes down to this:

Dear stupid-big-company-or-institution IF you decide to go out into these internets and try to do some bad stuff, please don’t act as if you would be a stupid-big-company-or-institution. If you act stupid there will be people finding you. And yes, BMW, Sony or Nvidia: The internet will make you common laughing stock within 72 hours.

You will not have enough marketing billions to recover from that. The gullible you still can buy. But not the next generation: Those people know better and will not forget.

press releases

January 24th, 2006

The headline reads that there will be a 5th TV network. “That’s odd” me thought, after all wasn’t TV mass media. Wasn’t mass media the part of our surroundings that would give up attention space to the onlsaught to personal communication?
Reading into this release it turns out that UPN and “The WB” will be merged into a new TV channel. So yes, there is one less. It all makes sense. Funny how they spin the story though.

ads for god

January 17th, 2006

looking down

the best mac intel commercial so far

January 17th, 2006

from a cubicle near you

Chiat/Day: 0 - People: 1

FireWire - the epilog

January 17th, 2006

Now that it’s over it might be worth looking at FireWire again. I think there are lessons to be learned if something as smart and nice as FireWire looses against a mix of ‘ok’ replacements.

FireWire is a standard to connect things. Together with DV tape it was supposed to change everything. And interestingly enough it did not. Computers and Video were not exactly an easy match in the early 90s. TVs, recorders, transmissions: it all was analog. Digital processing was simply not fast enough to keep up with 25 or 30 images per second. Machines that could keep up with this onslaught of bits were expensive and complex. So was the connection of the video equipment: You had cables for audio, two of them if stereo, control and one to three for video. And the computer had to do the analog to digital conversion on the way in, and vice versa on the way out.

miniDV and FireWire did change all that. One cable between your camcorder and computer and you are done. Best of all: the data traveled in its native format between tape and computer. No conversion introduced a generation loss. The visual quality of the DV format is amazing, compared to any other consumer format that existed before.

When these solutions entered the market I was convinced that they would change everything. After all it was now amazingly inexpensive to create content of technically good quality. I think that Apple shared some of my enthusiasm: They promoted FireWire but also asked for a 1$ license fee per device. They invested allot into applications that would allow for easy video editing. I think every Mac runs iMovie, and with FireWire you really only need a cable and a camera to start. It is amazingly easy. Yet nobody really does it. People that edit video today probably would have cut super 8 film with a razor blade in the seventies.
Devices get sold. Of course. But there is very little output from this equipment. There are so badly named ‘vlogs’. But just a few thousand, and only few have original content.

There will be a sequel to Clerks. The story goes that Kevin Smith was buying filmstock by loaning money on his credit card. Back in 1994 that’s what you needed to do when you wanted to make a movie. Now you go and pick up a tape for 8 dollars and that’s all you need.

Has it let to an onslaught of new and fresh ideas? When Arri made a small handheld 16 millimeter camera in the 50s it spawned the nouvelle Vague. But what did DV do? Where is the contribution of FireWire? Just because everybody can edit does not mean that everybody can edit.

When FireWire was making things easy I had high hopes in the youth. I thought that there would be a revolution in visual content. That one day I would turn on the TV and would be surprised. I think it was two or three moves ago that I did not bother wiring up the TV set anymore. Finally I sold it, after I dragged it around from place to place.

The FireWire on the latest “MacBook Pro” is half as fast as on the previous PowerBooks. iPods started out with FireWire connections but are USB2 now. The self made porn market has transitioned from Polaroid over Video to phone cams.

Firewire is a thing of the past. People don’t really want to edit video it seems. For years video editing has been amazingly simple on Mac’s, and weird and cumbersome on Windows. But its market share seemed unfazed. The iPod and the constant Windows, malware malaise did what FireWire/Video could never accomplish.

I would have bet money on the opposite. Glad I did not.

Box office year 2005

December 14th, 2005

It has been a bad year for the US movie box office.

Now everybody jumps to conclusions. Me too. Of course the theatre owners point to everything but themselves. I think they share much of the responsibility for their demise.

People stop going to the movies, and theatre owners blame the bad Hollywood product for it. Maybe they should buy some diversity instead. Maybe -gulp- they should take some risk? Only few theatres have more character than a chain restaurant. Most of them are generic as it comes. And then they show dismal ads.

Cinema also lost the arms race in quality: For the average consumer the picture at home can look as good as it does in the cinema. And this is mostly pre HD DVD we are talking about. The audio at home already is as much 5.1 as it can be in a cinema. Plus that the volume will be always right, and there is no talking person next to you. Or if there should be then that is your own choice, and there is always the pause button.

During the 50s TV took away the cinemas monopoly of showing moving images. Colored movies got a boost from this, but Hollywood and the theatres went one step further: They changed their own format to widescreen. This was costly for production and theatres. But seperated the movi experience from the pale 4 by 3 Black and white TV set. Content adopted to what worked well in cinema. Some Movie genres surrendered to “I Love Lucy” and the likes,
new ones like the Cinemascope Western thrived.

Nothing like this happens right now. The movie theatres have the same whinning tone that we heard from the recording industry for years. They seem equally unable to adopt. Media habbits are changing. Games, DVDs, Internet are booming.

Just like the recording industry the Theatres blame piracy for their demise. Which is the classical looser argument. It’s not going anywhere. It does not help to search your audience for camcorders.

Theatres would have a chance though: They could make movie going an experience. Something that is fun and cool. With bad projection, bad seats and dirty theatres you will loose against any big screen TV. If movie theatres don’t make the show an event again, then they will go away. With the advent of color TVs in the early 70s many cinemas in Europe started showing porn in their struggle. I don’t think that this strategy would help US theatres right now.

If (young) people would start dressing up to go out and to the movies then theatres would have a market that nobody could take away from them. People want to celebrate an evening. Current multiplex generic mall type popcorn outlets are not the right offering for this.

Narrenfreiheit

December 8th, 2005

link

I think “Narrenfreiheit” is one of my most favorite german words.

generation @

December 2nd, 2005

Business Week writes about MySpace and the likes. The article is better than the usual hype-treadmill-word-boilups that you can read when people from traditional media try to get a handle on yet another internet base phenomen. They write that 15 to 18 year olds spend six and a half hours a day with any form of visual media on CRT/LCD sccreens: the big 3 TV, games and internet. When I was that age, we spend that much time having sex. Probably only on three or four of the 1424 days that you have between fifteen and eighteen. The rest of time we tried to get there. I have never looked at mySpace but I suspect that the basic motivations in the lifes of teenagers have not changed that much. They are so basic that they are not worth mentioning I guess. Or, maybe, times really have changed?

Well Murdoch payed almost half a billion dollars for MySpace. Better than twenty bugs on friendster. Which one of the things I liked about this article: It does not only cite events that supports one underlying current. Friendster tanked. They still mention it, even though this would not fit into the rosy ’social networking’ boom picture that they paint otherwise.

p&g allegdedly started a social network around a scent or spray. No, really. They spent some money on that. The really sad part about that is, that those responsible probably still occupy their corner office, despite the fact that they burned millions on a project that was as viable as, well, hm. I really tried to come up with something that would be as stupid. Couldn’t find anything.

crowds

December 2nd, 2005

Don’t tell George, but you can create masses of people in the computer. Pretty easy:

Massive is a software that will generate crowds for you.

Of those commecial I really only like the this PSA . Otherwise it appears as if digital crowd duplication is this years ‘frozen moment’. A visual effect that is nice at first, but if not backed up with content or meaning it becomes a yawning experience as long as it serves a replacement for an original idea.

In a supportive role it certainly can save some money by replacin lots of people.

The Carlton ad is alright as well. Carmina Burana. Like in the late eighties. But that one I have seen too often. It’s made it’s rounds.

The Aids PSA reminded me of another PSA. That one did not use Massive.

cingular web interface

November 27th, 2005

Cingular is one of these phone companies. They have a website. Allegdly you can do certain thing on this site.
Well, I just tried it, and it is broken. Never mind the cluttered design or the appauling animations. And
that html code that rushes over the page. It claims it can not find my phone number. It accepts a login, but
then can not find the records. Trying Safari instead of Firefox is says now that my account has been locked.

That’s all fine. But why did they waste their money on a website in the first place if they can’t make it work.
Can’t wait for skype to clean up with those telcos: I will not shed a single tear after any of them. Mindless stupid companies. They need to go away. Oh, and they will. They had it coming.

one plus one might be less than one

November 25th, 2005

Ars Technica took notice that Nokia is stop selling their phone/game combination ‘N-Gage’.

Cellphones and gaming both have enjoyed huge growth rates since Nokia introduced the device in 2003.
Somehow Frankenstein concepts don’t seem to work.