The Wall Street Journal released their report from the Walt Mossberg’s CEO love-in from a few weeks back.
(FYI – “The D” is a small conference for executives from large companies and essentially is a series of discussions and interviews conducted by the Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.)
Interviews include Bill Gates, “who showed off a dramatic new version of the dominant Office software, took shots at search rival Google, and declared the network-TV business dead,” Robert Iger (Walt Disney CEO), “who didn’t agree with him,” Sir Howard Stringer (Sony CEO), who was indicted by Martha Stewart for cluttering her life with wires, and Barry Sonnenfeld, (Movie Director) who thinks the movie to DVD release window is too short.
Much of this year’s conference was devoted to the changing media landscape and the disruption that technology is creating for old business models.
If you have a WSJ subscription, the D conference report is essential reading. I’ll provide some highlights in subsequent postings.
I heard this story on the NPR Story of the Day podcast a couple of weeks back and then a friend sent me an article from the NYTimes yesterday.
The gist is, in the UK, “inventor Howard Stapleton” discovered that teenagers can hear frequencies that many adults can’t and so he decided to turn those frequencies against them. Dubbed the “Mosquito teen repellent,” the frequency would be emitted at irregular intervals and would prove to be really irritating to teenagers and they would leave the premises.
The twist, however, is that teenagers have turned this invention on it’s head and are using it to send text messages undetected in class to one another. Most teachers can’t hear the tone and the virtual note passing is successful.
I thought I was done with the story until I ran across this while surfing tonight. Blogger Ochen K has the original mosquito sample as well as a series of test frequencies for your listening (ear shattering) pleasure.
For me it stops hurting at around 20,000Hz, whereas my wife is fitting in perfectly with our over-30 demographic.
As promised a few weeks back, ABC launched their experimental streaming television shows today. Launch shows include Lost, Desperate Housewives, Alias and Commander in Chief. All shows come with 4 30 second ads from a single sponsor (reload if you don’t want the first one they give you. I’ve seen Tylenol, Toyota and Cingular) and the video is in Flash, so don’t worry Mac users, it works fine. Video is running at around 533×300 resolution, so not only is this free, it runs at a decent, near-tv-quality resolution.
The downside? Besides ads, you can’t take it with you and you can’t go full screen. I think that ABC really intends this for occasional, “oops-I-missed-Deperate-Housewives” viewing and not for the gym or for family viewing. But if you are a feeling like a total slacker in your cube or you missed last night’s Lost, free might just be better than $1.99.
Ten foot interfaces. Microsoft has one and recently, so does Apple. And now, Yahoo! bought their very own. Meedio, one of the many television front ends for Windows XP, was acquired today by Yahoo! Strangely, tho, it appears that only the company was purchased but not all of their products, so it is unclear whether Yahoo! intends to use the technology as a DVR front end or to merely have ten foot interface of their own.
This acquisition reminds me a bit of the Konfabulator (now Yahoo! Widgets) acquisition made earlier this year by Yahoo! Much like Konfabulator, Meedio had an avid developer community and there were many plug-ins developed for weather, news, RSS and the like. So while a web based DVR may be part of the picture, don’t be too surprised to see Yahoo! on your television in the not-to-distant future.
So, I’ve been secretly lusting for the Xbox 360 for some time. I told myself and others that I wasn’t going to hang out at Best Buy or Costco like the other nerds, but all the while I’ve made side trips into these dens of electronic goodness for the past several months.
The persistence finally paid off yesterday, when everyone and their brother could finally get the 360. Apparently, local Best Buy, Walmart and others received shipments of around 60-80 Xbox 360’s. Mind you, they still sold out, but a lot more people got their hands on Xboxes this weekend.
I’ll post a more detailed report later, but so far the experience has been fairly positive. While a minor detail, the most impressive thing so far is how well the wireless controllers work with the Xbox. If you’ve ever tried to pair Bluetooth devices, you’ll appreciate how you turn the Xbox on, hit the big X button on the controller and it just works. You’d think Apple made it :-)
Movielink and CinemaNowannounced today that they will have day and date releases with their DVD counterparts reports the Wall Street Journal this morning. Starting tomorrow with Brokeback Mountain, both companies will give users the ability to buy movies the same day they arrive on DVD.
Both seem to limit what people can do with the movies. Movielink will allow users to burn the movies to DVD, but those DVDs will only be playable on PCs. For the privilege, Movielink will be charging between $20-30 per movie for new films, on par with DVD’s MSRP, but not the actual street price. CinemaNow will be charging between $10-20 per movie, but users won’t be able to burn the movies to DVD.
Here’s a an email a friend I’ll call ‘iPodFan’ sent me today regarding the Creative Zen. You might remember, I played with the Zen:M back at CES and wished it didn’t suck.
My review of this review… and I’m completely unbiased!! ;)
Creative ZEN Vision:M Media Player
This is the same cost as the 30GB iPod with Video Playback. The ZEN Vision sells at Amazon for $299. The iPod 30GB is $289.99 at Amazon. ;)
My iPod’s hard drive kicked the bucket a mere week after its warranty ran out. Talk about rotten fruit. To get my life back in tune — and to spite Apple — I picked up this Creative media player.
Just like a cell phone, but with a delicate moving part, iPods have a useful lifetime… they won’t last forever. I’m sure Apple feels the spite, enjoy your Creative media player. Good luck getting it serviced if it develops problems.
In fact, upon further research, there are some interesting warranty features:
labor costs are covered only for the first 3 months
labor costs are covered for the first 12 months
refurb models are only covered by a 30 day warranty
refurb models are covered by the same 1 year warranty
buyer pays repair shipping
pays shipping in the first 6 months
Surprisingly, this stylish 30-Gbyte handheld held its own against my old iPod. It matches the video iPod’s MP3 and MPEG playback, makes up for lack of AAC support with DivX and Windows Media compatibility, and dazzles with its 2.5-inch LCD.
Same size screen, wonder how nice the Creative screen looks… I’ve never
seen one that was working on display.
(Editor’s Note – I’ve seen the screen, it was pretty nice.)
The menus and one of its buttons are customizable, and it has FM radio and a mike for recording messages. Plus, it mounted on my PC as a hard drive, so I could add files by just dragging and dropping — no more iTunes nightmares.
Windows Explorer for organizing your media… that sounds like loads of fun. FM radio: more fun. I am interested in the included Mike, is he cute? Does he take dictation? It’d be cool if they included a mic. (Sorry, pet peeve, Wired copy editors suck… I’ve seen so many typos lately.) My only iTunes nightmares are having to upgrade every ten minutes. ;)
My only complaint is that the vertical touchpad is a little too sensitive. And without iTunes Store compatibility, I have to get most of my video via BitTorrent. But that’s a small price to pay to escape Steve Jobs’ stranglehold on my music collection. — Erin Biba
Have fun getting sued. How does iTunes create a stranglehold? iTunes creates full quality Fraunhofer MP3 encodings at up to 320kbps, or VBR AAC, or even Apple Lossless (okay, that one is proprietary).
Thanks for the email, iPodfan! I love it when you’ve woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Keep ’em coming!
Hmmmm….. this sounds like a great idea. Apple has been getting flack for iPods having potentially ear damaging loudness –
The move follows a class action lawsuit that was filed against Apple in a federal court in California in January, which claimed that iPods could cause hearing loss because they have the capacity to produce sounds in excess of 104 decibels and up to 115 decibels.
But it’s a 27.7 mb download for a volume limiter and “bug fixes?” That seems kinda big. I’m not sure we’re getting the whole truth here, folks. Apple has notoriously put new software into iPod and iTunes software releases, so I wonder what else might be in here?
No Series 3 Tivo yet, but Amazon has specs on a SD dual cable tuner (one analog, one digital). Sounds like they may have one input for an external tuner and one internal tuner. Probably not the most straightforward thing to hook up, but Tivo has been pretty remarkable in the past making this stuff just work.
No official word from Tivo yet, but Amazon, Buy.com and a few others seem to have product info, but no ship date.
Haven’t been paying too much attention to our pals over at XM lately, so here is a little update. After a little tiff with Clear Channel about adding advertisements to their channels (CC provides programming to several XM channels), XM decided to add genre channels that match the CC provided channels.
Those new channels are:
U.S. Country – XM 17 – Country Superstars of the 80s and 90s Flight 26 – XM 26 – Modern Hits 90s & Now XM Hitlist – XM 30 – Today’s Hit Music enLighten – XM 34 – Southern Gospel XM Liquid Metal – XM 42 – Heavy Metal XL Big Tracks – XM 49 – Later Classic Rock The Heat – XM 68 – Rhythmic Hits Escape – XM 78 – Easy Listening XM Chill – XM 84 – Chill Music Viva – XM 91 – Latin Pop Hits
They also will be adding 6 regional talk radio stations in the spring and summer.
If you can tolerate another subscription in your life, XM is really great. If you spend a lot of time in the car or just like ad-free radio, check out XM.
It’s Tuesday, and I’m a whore for the iTunes Music Store (hey, that rhymes).
Continuing iTMS’ tradition of free downloads promoting not-yet-launched tv shows, this week we see Bravo capitalizing on the success of the “Desperate Housewives” with their launch of “Real Housewives of Orange County.”
“The Real Housewives of Orange County” will follow five sophisticated women and their families who lead glamorous lives in a picturesque Southern California gated community where the average home has a $1.6 million price tag and residents include CEOs and retired professional athletes.
Not satisfied with just running regular XP on an Intel Mac, the folks over at the OSX86Project have gotten Windows MCE up and running on an Intel iMac. They don’t have the IR port working yet, but I imagine that it will only be a matter of time.
One other bit of PSP news today that I missed yesterday – at Sony’s announcement yesterday, Ken Kutagari also announced a couple of cool add-ons for the PSP, namely the rumored GPS add-on and an Eyetoy for video VOIP. Both of these devices should give Sony’s PSP a long deserved shot in the arm, but here’s one question, how about some kick-ass games?
Need a little content for your iPod? Google has made its videos (not the ‘for pay’ videos, mind you) available for download reformatted for the PSP and iPod. Thank God, I can finally watch “Road Trip Prank,” “Shtanga,” “Indian Exotic Dance in Office 2” wherever I want!