Publishing and content

The brilliance of the Kindle

I was given a Kindle for Father's Day. I had thought about getting one for a while, but have become risk averse when it comes to new gadgets. There is always some new gadget that is supposed to save me time and money, and they almost never do. And I read a lot on airplanes, and they don't make you turn off your old-fashioned paper book during take off and landing. But I had a three day business trip just after the weekend, so I took the Kindle along.

I was hooked almost instantly.

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Death of TV: Part XXXV: The collapse of the TV business

Here is an interesting article that highlights what Apple might have planned for the Apple TV. Anyone that thinks the cable TV companies are going to automagically solve our broadband problems should read this.

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Walmart joins the cloud

Walmart has announced a partnership with Vudu. You can take your DVDs and Blu-ray movie discs to Walmart, and pay $2 to have them "converted" and stored in the cloud. If you want an HD (Blu-ray) version, you pay $5. Walmart does not actually read your discs; instead, they verify that you actually have a physical copy, then just enable that movie for your account from a previously stored digital master.

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What, me worry? Mad Magazine goes digital

In what has to be one of the most important publishing and content stories of the decade, Mad Magazine has announced you will be able to read the magazine on the iPad, beginning April 1st.

Really. April 1st.

The magazine goes to the trouble of assuring readers it is NOT an April Fool's joke.

I, for one, welcome our new Mad Magazine overlords to the digital world.

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Our data is doubling every year

This story from MIT's Technology Review says that the amount of data we are storing is doubling every year. Doubling every year. So that $120 terabyte hard drive you bought to back up the baby pictures and your music library? You'll need another one in a year or two. Then four. Then eight. Hard drive densities keep going up, but they are not doubling every year.

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Death of TV: Part XXXIV -- Will Apple TV put finally put an end to "TV"

The buzz that Apple will introduce an Apple TV sometime this year continues. Speculation about the product includes claims that it will incorporate Siri voice recognition so that you can just talk to it and eliminate the remote control. Other theories include the idea that it will look and behave much like an iPad, and that it will essentially be a big iPad, with the ability to run most iPad apps.

If Apple does introduce a new "TV" device, I am pretty sure it will:

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Comcast launches Steampix to beat Netflix

Comcast has announced its own streaming video service, called Steampix, to compete with Netflix. It only costs $4.99/month, but if you have Comcast's triple play package, you get it for free. Comcast, because it owns the network infrastructure, can dish out streaming video more efficiently and for much less cost than Netflix, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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SOPA and PIPA meet OPEN

The truly awful SOPA and PIPA bills have been stalled, but Rep. Darrell Issa of California has introduced OPEN, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, in the House. OPEN has been written more narrowly to target only offshore counterfeit and bootleg sites, and does not give the Federal government the expansive powers to arbitrarily shut down any site; SOPA and PIPA managed to eliminate both due process and free speech in a single bill.

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The future of the Internet is fiber

Here is an interesting statement from the Roku folks:

"Generally we recommend a network speed of at least 1.2 Mbps, but to view live events, like Major League Baseball games, you’ll want at least 3 Mbps. For HD viewing, we recommend 5 Mbps.”

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SOPA and PIPA: Get ready for the Net Police

Major sites on the Internet are displaying either a black banner (e.g. Google) or are completely blacked out, meaning there is no access to site content today (e.g. Wikipedia). The two bills (SOPA is the House version, PIPA is the Senate version) are appallingly bad, as they toss due process out the window and give unelected bureaucrats the right to shut down any site in the U.S. without any actual proof of a copyright violation--all that is needed is an unfounded accusation. But wait! Like a Ginzu knife ad, there is more!

Facebook gives away private postings

Facebook is now going to give Politico every singe public AND PRIVATE Facebook posting that mentions the name of a Presidential candidate. Supposedly this will be done anonymously, but there is no way to opt out. So either you never discuss anything political anymore or mention a candidate's name in every single post to make the whole exercise worthless.

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Death of TV: Part XXXIII -- Netflix just cuts out the studios

Netflix, despite their clumsy handling of price changes, is not stupid. Somewhere along the way, they noticed they could pay outsized royalty fees to the studios every time someone streamed a TV show, or they could just produce their own TV shows and KEEP ALL THE MONEY.

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Will Microsoft win the TV race?

Wired has an interesting article on the slow and steady approach Microsoft has taken with the Xbox. Wired describes the huge sales numbers for the Xbox over the Black Friday weekend, noting that it can't just be gamers buying a six year old design.

What has happened is that Microsoft has been able to sign a lot of content agreements so that you can use the Xbox to replace your TV, with lots of on-demand video from a wide variety of content providers.

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Siri, What's on TV tonight?

A cryptic reference in the wildly popular biography of Steve Jobs suggests that Apple has something up its sleeve with respect to the TV set. MacRumors reports on a NY Times story that suggests Apple's intelligent agent technology, called Siri, may show up in an Apple-branded TV set. Instead of complicated remotes, we will just talk to our TV and tell it what we want to watch.

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Happy Birthday, iPod!

The iPod is ten years old today. The iPod was the brainchild of Steve Jobs. There were plenty of other MP3 music players at the time; most of them were much less expensive and smaller than the iPod, but the iPod was easy to use, both from the interface of the iPod itself, but key to the music player's success was the way the iPod synced with iTunes on your computer--a layer of complexity was completely eliminated, and that made all the difference.

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Netflix kills Qwikster

Netflix has announced that it has abandoned plans to split its business in two and make customers to two different sites, depending on whether they want to rent a DVD or watch something instantly via the Internet. It was actually much worse than that, as they were also going to make customers have two different and separate billing accounts. The invisible hand of the market, when left alone, usually fixes stupidity like this, and it did.

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Why broadband still matters

Now that the broadband stimulus money has been distributed, and the Google fiber initiative has taken root in the two Kansas Cities, a lot of communities seem to have lost interest in broadband initiatives. The cable companies have done a fairly good job of keeping up with demand, and the telephone companies continue to cling to their share of the broadband market by competing on price rather than on bandwidth.

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Has the Kindle Fire just redefined the tablet?

Amazon has just announced the Kindle Fire. You won't be able to get your hands on one until November 15th, but you can order one now. If Apple was planning to release an upgraded iPad before the holidays, Amazon just stole all of Apple's thunder.

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Death of TV: Part XXXI

According to the LA Times, eighteen years after the commercialization of the Internet, folks in Hollywood have determined that their might actually be something to that InterTubes things.

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Disintermediation and the Passafire Phenonmenon

Passafire is a Savannah, Georgia based band with some roots on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Their most recent album, Start from Scratch, has zoomed to the top of the iTunes reggae charts to take the number two spot behind perennial number one Bob Marley. What is interesting about this is that the band does not have a contract with a major record label (and "record" is an anachronism these days).

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