byzantine

November 16th, 2014

byzantine

Sunday morning, and Breakfast will only be served in 15 minutes.

Not feeling to open a book I visit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random

A song comes up. Turns out I don’t have it, but I like it.

The iTunes music gave me grief before. So I use Amazon.
Or, let’s say I try to.

A song with a wikipedia page is obviously easy to find.
I can preview it. Yes, it is what I thought it would be.

No surprise that the purchase button is easy to.

They have a new player / app they like to push.
The old amazon downloader did not cause any troubles,
so I choose that one.
The file downloads in no time. That USED to be the problem:
Getting those large files to your computer.
Clicking on it, the mac tells me that this app is from an unidentified
developer.
In system preferences I tell it to open it anyway.
It does, but shows an empty screen.
In my downloads is still the amazon file. I click on that one.
Nothing happens. Well, not really nothing: The downloaded file
vanished.
Then I go in Amazon to my purchases music. The song is not there
either. The 0.89 USD I spent will probably the only memory of those
3:18 (the length of the song) that I spent to get this song.

Buying music should be easy in 2014. It turns out in my specific
way of trying this it totally is not. I don’t buy music often. So I don’t feel
like researching all that might be involved.

I rather ramble here about it. Also since it is quiet symptomatic:

The actual act of copying a couple of bits to my computer is such a
small part of the overal action. It used to be that DRM was part of
the problem. It no longer is. Still have I have to deal with interfaces
and software that changes / breaks every time I like to use it.

The background is that the people running and maintaining these
systems do not care for the “Alpha to Omega - Experience” enough.

The late Mr Jobs was really good at making sure that things ran
as smooth as possible for certain flows from start to finish. If you don’t
then with computers and systems lots of ‘stuff’ will creep into the flow.
And the system will start depending on this extra stuff of other parts of
the system.

If you think that Byzantine bureaucracy was horrible then you have
no idea how our digital future will be.

jetset without overplay is dull

February 17th, 2014

Finally followed advice from a good friend and got overplay. Was super easy. Support was stellar. Netflix releasing House of Cards while I am on the wrong contintent?
Who cares …

Nice planet. But parts of it are a bit boring without any access to netflix etc.

Media consumption in 2014

February 10th, 2014

4 months after I moved I connected the BluRay player. Turns out it was worth it: “Save the Tiger” is worth watching.

“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.

waste of time: news

September 9th, 2012

I found this today on a web site of a pewspaper:


Countless publications show the same AP story.

What is the problem with this?

According to the latest numbers China grew by 8.9%.
Since this is China one could also say: grew only by 8.9%

The US GDP grew 1.7% in the same time.

The headline of the AP story says something else.
So does the first sentence. And 8.9% growth are being called ‘anemic’

This is a very simple thing: growth did decline by 0.3%. Growth did. NOT the actual output.

I wonder what happens to the 99% of topics in the news that are more complex and faceted than this China statistic.

After I wrote this I went back to google news. On CNN one can read that the economy slowed:

I think following this kind of ‘news’ is a complete waste of time.

interfaces

October 15th, 2011

During childhood we build an idea of our surroundings. Kids figure stuff out quiet naturally. It’s what we are wired to do. When are young. Or when we like to learn.

I don’t think that this is a big deal - since people always did adopt to new ways of communicating. Reading and Writing are similar techniques that are ‘no natural’.

I think that it is a big deal - since more and more of our world is made up by glowing rectangles. We are what we watch. And what we watch could be controlled by some few corporations. No need to put people in pods like in ‘the matrix’ and maintaining them. They can do that themselves AND be under tight super vision.

I guess we will find out which one it will be.

surprisingly insightful

August 25th, 2011

Adweek ventures into cultural history. And - in my opinion - they actually do succeed.

user experience

April 11th, 2011

A great illustration of how the user experience of getting your movie going is quiet different depending on if you have paid for it - or not.

Murch on 3D

January 24th, 2011

Walter Murch on 3D

I agree with everything he writes. I frequently do. Here he makes his case very clear.

For his profession to be interested in human perception and its inner workings makes allot of sense.

past wasted fears

January 19th, 2011

“Strange Maps” is a wonderful read for me. It shows that on the Internet even strange or obscure content will find an audience.

In the recent post pages from Life Magazine in the forties are the subject. I find them highly entertaining. What Life wrote is utter rubbish. Complete fiction. As probable as you having 5 legs.

In 1942 many people in the US took those maps for a likely scenario. What an amount of wasted fear. I personally don’t like to jump to the conclusion that such non sense got produced to manipulate people into a certain direction. For me it is more likely to see the motivation in the fabrication of fictional war global war maps in that Life hoped to increase the circulation.

I think that today’s articles and ‘news items’ often don’t do much better in the area of plausibility. How is that swine flu pandemic going?

fonts and their effect on memorisation

January 9th, 2011

Seed Magazine writes about a study that links less readable fonts to better ability to recall the conten. A less readable font slows down reading. Makes sense.

However, in those studies the subjects had no choice but to read the poorly typeset text. In reality most reading happens in a context, where other texts -presumably easier to read- are just a glimpse away. A study that would take this into account would probably have devastating results for badly readable fonts: You can not remember what you didn’t read in the first place.

The Albinan Army

December 13th, 2010


It’s a little bit like, is the Albanian army going to take over the world?

I don’t think so.

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes about the future of Netflx according to The Hollywood Reporter

Netflix streaming right now feels indeed like the early Napster: All this content for that kind of price? Amazing. As long the Starz deal runs Netflix will gain momentum.
They will be installed on lots of screens & devices. Maybe they will be able to pay more for content than all the other balkanized wanna be streamers together.

We will see. And watch. And it will be interesting.

Douglas Trumball website

September 8th, 2010

Thanks Mike for tweeting about the website of Douglas Trumbull. Nice to see this being done so well. Great content with great presentation. Can happen on the Internet. There are not many examples of a site like this though.

Time before the movie starts

March 10th, 2010

This page compares the user experience of a legit DVD with that of a pirated movie. I would add to this to get the packaging open: There are often the shrink wrap + 3 ugly white stickers on each open side saying “Security Device enclosed”.

I remember that early DVDs would start into the movie right away. and then, when done would go to the menu. When you insert a DVD you do it, since you want to see the movie. Not because you want to watch all the other crud, like a menu opening that contains key elements of the movie to come, often oddly animated.

The problem with this is, that probably not enough people care. They don’t care about spam, viruses on their computer, their diet either. In turn the quality of the offerings for ‘the general public’ get worse. To the point that they are plain junk in some cases. I read that ‘30 rock’ would be a good show. When I watched some of the first season the other day I was a bit shocked how little I was able to enjoy it. Probably a unique aversion since I don’t watch TV. So my tolerance for mental junk might be a bit different compared to people who spend hours in front of the TV screen.

Got a reel?

February 9th, 2010

Eric Alba shows some shelfs

And -as so often- he has a point.

the unread written

September 27th, 2009

Dennis Baron’s book “A Better Pencil” does not only has a nice title, but going by this Salon Interview it seems to well worth the read.

I tend to disagree with him when he proclaims:


And the funny thing is that you could put anything out there, and somebody is going to read it.

I think there is an awful lot of things that get written today and that will never be read. And not only on Twitter. We tend to apply the existing rules, concepts and understandings for way to long. Cars looked as if you were to put a horse in front of them for way to long. In the past if something got written then it indeed got read. Varying audience. But since publication cost was significant filters on many levels made sure that it was recoverable.

Now publication cost is zero. Yet, we still assume that we publish it and they will view it. This does no longer apply, since their is simply not enough readership to go around.

The corpus of unread things we cared to write is not a bad thing in itself. If we were aware then it would regulate itself.

The error of an assumed audience becomes expensive when you pour resources into something that will never find an audience that justifies the efforts that went into it. That video that you crafted so nicely for your company was not worth it when only a couple hundred people will ever watch it. Company websites cost sometimes 5 dollars or more per visitor. A visitor that most of the time will have forgotten about it after 2 seconds.

playing by the old rules in a new game

August 9th, 2009

An interesting look at actual web usage of news papers. I like how the author takes abstract numbers and puts them in a meaningful context.

Newspapers used to run things. They used to be everywhere. In Paris a couple of weeks ago I realized at some point that we had not seen anybody reading a paper. Even books were rare. It was not only a sudden but also a complete change of habits.

I think we have no actual idea what this means and will mean for the future. Technology develops in a certain pace determined by the problems to be solved and the momentum and financial interests behind it. Peoples use and application thereof is a completely different story.

In hindsight things seem to make sense. But actually only if you choose to ignore facts that don’t fit the pattern. Texting for instance, now a billion dollar revenue stream for cellphone carriers, was never intended to be used by people. It was considered a byproduct of some engineering mode for cell phones.

The invention of the Kinetoscope preceded the existence of movies as we know them by more than a decade.

Technology for pre - internet media was unable to adopt. It took great efforts to shoe-horn color into black and white TV signals. 35mm was the dominantly width in use of film strips used in movies as long as movies existed, and before they became digital.

The internet connects mostly computers with each other. This simple fact puts it into its own league as far as media technology is concerned. MySpace goes and Twitter comes at break neck speed. Limited only by peoples imagination and their willingness to adopt.

Trying to apply mechanisms and rules from ‘old media’ in the Internet space will be as successful as the applications of lessons learned from WW1 was helpful to France when they felt save behind the Maginot line.

Rupert ends the free phase of the Internet

August 7th, 2009

I often wondered what would be wrong with Rupert Murdoch. And I don’t mean that fact that the mother of his 6 year old youngest kid is ten years younger than his firstborn. I wonder why somebody who is worth billions can not think of anything better than to go to work.

Running an almost proverbial media empire is probably not a smooth way to spend a day. News Corp announced their ‘numbers’ a couple of days ago.
They had to correct a couple of billions in ‘Good Will’ that they had previously on the books.

Following suit is now the plan to charge for content. It does not take sybillic powers to see that this will fail royally. Allot of News Corps page views are based on content that is -let’s say- somewhat shallow. There is no shortage of that on the net. I doubt people ever will pay for that.

And content that might be worth paying for is already non-free. The problem with that is that I rather pick up the WSJ in paper and enjoy the resolution, large display size and fast and easy navigation than to sign up for some thing with an existing media company. Not that paying for content would be bad. The problem is that so far no media company has managed to create a system that works well enough for me to pay for.

I don’t think that Rupert Murdoch will try his pay systems himself and enter his credit into the form that his IT mignons will drum up for this.

sugar water 21st century edition

July 25th, 2009


insomnia - the movies

May 30th, 2009

A while back I watched Insomnia, I think I found it by some lateral IMDB connection of its director Chris Nolan. It was not bad for most parts. Watching the DVD extras I found out ,that this was actually a remake of a swedish movie with the same title. Since that was the only choice I got the stupidly overpriced criterion disc.

Watching the US remake and original revealed some american movie codes that -looking at them in the light of these films- are just plain stupid. Essential story points got bent. It was not that horrible to watch Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank act in the 2002 version. The original rarely reveals the thesping. People, surroundings and the issues suggested simply feel more reel. All the style, sound design, fog, acting and writing in serpentines to avoid a dog being shot make the US version feel dense, crafted and inept compared to the original.

The swedish film is certainly not without its flaws. But Insomnia is a remake that makes you wonder why there is such as thing a remake.

everybody has the tools

May 10th, 2009

Tools for people to create content of any kind are widely available since a long time. Still it feels rare when there is something like this.

new media

August 3rd, 2008

Got refurb iPod nanos from Apple for the kids. $99. Tooble is a somewhat buggy but overal working application that will get youtube videos and put them into iTunes and therefor the nanos. Handbrake takes care of DVDs and works actually much better. Overall it is pretty impressive with how little effort, config and engineering I was able to give my kids all the music videos that I thought would be interesting. Quality is dismal, but I heard no complaints.

1 video - 2 OS releases

May 10th, 2008

Probably the only music video that starts out in OS X 10.4 and ends in 10.5:


Or -to say it better- the only one where it’s that apparent.

We have indeed come a long since theCMX 600

wrong about being wrong

May 2nd, 2008

It turns out that I was wrong then I thought I was wrong about the Next-Gen of movies on a disc: Blu-Ray sales declined. Bluray might become the first class of enteraintment: Coach has many more seats that 1st. Specially on inner american flights.

box office as one long graph

February 27th, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/02/23/movies/20080223_REVENUE_GRAPHIC.html"> Interesting and nice use of Flash

MacLarren mashup

February 23rd, 2008


keynote via radio

January 15th, 2008

The part of the world that cares about Apple computers is holding it’s breath. Real Christmas will come around in a couple of hours. It is a big deal. I would carefully estimate that a hundred thousand people are pretty interesting in what will be revealed in the next hours.

It also is in Apples interest to provide people with the information directly the way they intended it. Having people transcribe it is what happens. But not necessarily what Apple would want.

Let’s make no mistake: the Keynote is as brilliant of a piece of Propaganda as it is possible for the audience of 2008. It is surprising that Apple does not broadcast it over the radio. I am serious. It can not cost that much to get this going. No need for quality. The geeks that care for this would run out and even buy a short wave resceiver just to listen to Steves voice live. All internet attempts to do live audio streaming seem not to work. They didn’t in the last years, since those 100,000 people would have to high bandwidth demands. Apple used to stream it, but stopped.

Kinda lame.

SECURITY DEVICE ENCLOSED

January 15th, 2008

If there would be a god, then studio bosses would need to remove the packaging from all the DVDs that were pressed under their reign before they could go to hell.

JJ Abrams

January 11th, 2008


format peace

January 8th, 2008

post format war

It is hard to imagine that HD DVD would come back from the blow that Warners BluRay decision delivered. The internet was busy speculating about half a billion dollars in bribes that supposedly that came down rolling Barham Blvd. I think that the sales performance of DVD makes the Studios very nervous. All too quickly they got used to the huge volume of DVD revenue and a steady increase for that matter. The average american bought DVDs for $53, rented them for $25 in 2007. And he/she paid $32 at the Cinema Box office. For both HD formats combined a single dollar left peoples purses in the last year.

In total billions these numbers look like:

16 DVD sales
7.5 DVD rentals
0.3 nextgen DVD formats (both)
9.6 Box office

The troubling point for the studios seems to be that DVD sales are declining. Already in 2005 DVD set top box sales had gone done for the first time in history. Back then it probably was the fanfare about the ‘next thing’. People don’t like to buy yesterdays gadget. The studios felt they needed to get HD via DVD going. And Sony did the better show and number exercises.

Both formats encoding technology, bandwidth and other core parameters are pretty similar. As Mike Curis eludes to, the scripting technology in HD DVD seems to be more open, developer friendly and thefor hugely favorable over the bloated Java based BluRay implementation. But what’s to expect from Sony.

Flat panel displays sales have taken off, and about a year analog TV will be turned off. With the format war being over the Bluray sales should surge. And, I think, they will. Initially. Many bluray players will be PS3s. After correcting the outrageous price Sony’s next gen box had finally some sales worth mentioning. How many people bought the black box because they could not get the cute white one is a different story.

I wouldn’t be surprised if DVD+BluRay Sales volumes would come out flat in 2008 and from there on further decline. There are three reasons for this future disappointment:

* It’s the internet stupid.
Not only the net alone. Technology progresses everywhere. Hell, my toaster wants more attention than it’s great grandfather did 20 years ago. Media is omnipresent. VHS had to compete with, well, Books and TV. Maybe radio, cinema and newspapers. That’s about it. Bluray faces a vastly different world. None of the existing media emanations will just fade away. And new ones get created with an increasing pace. There is simply not enough time to watch all those movies.

* we don’t care since you don’t care
The Studios have failed to understand their own product. There is a history to this. And others failed similarly: The music industry would be in much better shape, would they have not confused the means of peddling circular things with the end of enabling people to enjoy music. Both HD formats allow for better visible quality compared to DVD. Better bandwidth and modern codecs could make for a great experience. Despite this potential most early Discs that were available have been widely criticized for their poor transfers. Some people felt that they would be better off with a decent upscale of a good quality DVD. People love movies. A considerable slice of the population, and almost certainly the majority of early (media) tech adopters care for a good experience. The Studios should have put the utmost emphasis on quality. And that starts with the film transfer. Even though the studios are not keen to involve creative people more than absolutely necessary, they should have gotten them on board for the launch of the new media. Imagine Steven Spielberg approving a 5 movie disk set claiming “this is how I want my movies to be seen”. People would spend allot of money for this. They would get players, lay cable. The whole thing. Maybe the studios should have gotten together with the ACE and directors guild to develop a approval system. Pay directors and DPs to sign off on a DVD transfer. I would pay happily knowing that the creative vision was intact. OK, in some cases I would simply paying for the drug habit of that one hit wonder boy. But I do that anyway, one way or another.

* it’s complicated
HDMI 1.3 is really exciting, since it not only features greater than bitdepths but also could carry the extended xvYCC color space. While being true, not many people know what this means. And neither should they. DVD succeeded because it was ‘as simple as CD’. No more rewind. That made Hollywood billions. Simple is key. The HD formats are not exactly known for simplicity. And the studios are not helping. Neither do the hardware makers. I find my way around these matters. But it’s my job to understand all this. And if it wouldn’t, then I would really watch another movie than to worry about downsampled movies that were escaping DRM through the analog otherwise. Having two formats was of course a big problem. But even with BluRay remaining it’s not as easy as it should be. Different disc sizes. Flat panel resolutions. Frame rates.
Image processing. And an interface written in Java simply scares me: There are just too many ways developers mess up. Hardware makers and studios alike fall in love with features that have nothing to do with their product. Multi Angle was one of these technical possibilities that DVD had. Studios were all excited about it. Since they didn’t understand what their product is: A movie is one view. One perspective. Everything else is a cute vaudeville attraction or plain and simple porn that desperately tries to stand out (no pun intended).

DVD hardware sales

Variety on DVD sales numbers
2007 Box office

music and technology

December 30th, 2007

The Rolling Stone writes about audio technology and music and how things have changed in recent years.

Technology and Art influencing each other is a very interesting topic for me. This article touches on a couple of interesting points. Not more though. Without any respect for the matter it tries to discuss it merely assembles unrelated facts and sound bytes along one imaginary audio/digital axies. From production to consumption it bounces back and forth. Emitting half educated statements along the way.

A couple of articles, better researched would have been much better.

The bigger question is how I get my wife to approve the move of the Stereo from the attic into the living room.