Archive for Technology

Tech Update 4: Hulu Plus (Hulu on PS3 console)

Posted in Technology with tags , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2010 by raingeg

Today is a great day. For the last three years I’ve been trying to find ways to make my Playstation 3 and Hulu work together to give me my favorite “television” shows on my television. I’ve tried many things like Tversity and PlayOn which allow you to stream content from your computer, via the web, over your gaming console. That got to be a bit tedious, you had to turn your computer on, open the program, leave your computer on and then watch the show. Sometimes it wouldn’t connect to the web correctly, or there would be lag and then you’d have to wait for it to catch up. Then they started charging for the service, so I gave up on it. You couldn’t watch Hulu over the browser on the PS3 and now they’ve made it so that you can’t even run another OS on the PS3.

Enter Hulu Plus, a subscription based version of Hulu that allows you to access Hulu via the PS3 console. Hulu will not change, but Hulu Plus will give you a more than what is already available. Hulu Plus will be available on a plethora of other devices like the iPhone, iPod and iPad, along with some HD TV’s, XBOX 360 (2011) and other devices. And it will be in 720 High Definition. And for $9.99 a month you will be able to access full seasons of your favorite television shows. Seems like a pretty good deal.

For a while now gaming consoles have had access to the NetFlix library of movies and television shows for $8.99. I’ve been considering signing up for NetFlix because the price is so great. Now comes along Hulu Plus, which will give me the ability to watch a lot of new shows on my PS3, plus a lot of old shows for a dollar more. I do wonder if we will have access to the movie library that is already available at Hulu. I’m also wondering about some of the more obscure cable shows, if they too will be available on Hulu Plus. I’m sure all of these questions will be answered soon enough.

I just thought of something. If I purchased NetFlix and Hulu Plus, for the mere price of about $19.00 per month, I could have many of the features, if not more, available on basic cable. The cable company charges an arm and a leg for basic cable and its not worth it, I guess that’s why I don’t have it, and with the way technology is advancing it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting it in the future.

Tech Update 3

Posted in Politics, Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by raingeg

Tech updates are back!

Apple gets tough on explicit material:

For a few days now I’ve been reading a lot about Apples decision to get tough on some of the more indecent apps in the Apple App store. They’ve removed some 5,000 apps from the store that they deem explicit or pornographic. Many are angry over what they see as blatant hypocricy, as Apple has let the Sports Illustrated swimsuit app, the Playboy app and the Hooters App stay in the store. Apple is saying that they are letting some of the more established companies stick around. Maybe they don’t want the image of an indie porn dealer or some back alley porn shop.

I knew someone was going to say this and they did, this is an email from an app developer that came into Mobile Industry Review:

I’m not usually to swayed by what companies do, but Apple’s censorship has really ticked me off. OK the apps they binned were probably crap (on that basis alone, they should kill another 100,000 or so), but Apple has no right to tell me what I might be offended by.

Actually, unknown developer, they have every right to censor what ever they want. They are a private company and private companies can censor what they want to censor, for what ever reason they want to. I’ve seen it happen, working for a radio station you are bound to see programs come and go, and the ones that go are sometimes nixed because they are offensive to some people. I don’t like throwing the word “right” around like it doesn’t mean anything.

One of the many apps that got a notice of deletion was the Simply Beach app that allows women (or men if they really wanted too) to shop for swimwear on the iPhone.

From Cult of Mac:

As previously reported, Apple pulled the app by Simply Beach, an online beachwear retailer, as part of its great sexy apps purge over the weekend. Among other things, the Simply Beach app sold bikinis. On Friday, Simply Beach received an email from Apple about the decision to remove any overtly sexual content from the store and that included the Simply Beach application. “The email also made mention to numerous complaints they had received from customers regarding ‘this type of content’ and implied it was these complaints which had led to the changes,” says the app’s developer, Andrew Long. He added that Simply Beach thought this was a hoax. A few hours ago, the Simply Beach app was again available on the App Store. Neither Long nor Simply Beach received any communication whatsoever from Apple, Long said in an email. The same thing seems to have happened with Daisy Mae’s Alien Buffet, a 12+  rated game that was pulled presumably because it features a female lead character in short shorts. Like Simply Beach, the game is quietly back on the App Store. Again, there has been no communication from Apple. It’s pretty clear that Apple’s doing damage limitation here, reinstating the high-profile apps, although iWobble is still banned.

There are issues like this that will inevitably come up and Apple seems be dealing with them. Its funny to see a company that has a fairly zealous young liberal backing be anything but young and liberal. This is a move that I commend, good on you Apple for taking a stand in a world where stands seldom are taken.

Read more at the New York Times and Tech Flash.

Wal-Mart enters the online video business:

Wal-mart has purchased a small company out of Silicon Valley called Vudu. Vudu’s business model centers around getting entertainment, movies and television shows to people with HDTV’s and Blu-Ray players. It seems as though they are looking to compete with some of the more established companies like NetFlix, which have similar services and offer those services on a lot of different hardware platforms.

From the New York Times:

At the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, Vudu announced deals to put its service into devices made by Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba and said it was expanding its older relationships with LG Electronics, Vizio and Mitsubishi. Panasonic and Sony are the only major manufacturers that have not yet added the Vudu service to their devices. With Wal-Mart, one of their biggest retailers, taking it over, manufacturers will now have another reason to include Vudu. Vudu competitors like Netflix, of course, are cutting similar deals with manufacturers, who are happy to build multiple services into their devices and make them more versatile. Vudu has sought to distinguish itself from its rivals by bragging about its large catalog of high-definition movies, its simple user interface and its integration of other Internet services like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Pandora.

To tie this story into the previous story, aparently Vudu has a pretty big pornography collection, something that Wal-Mart is not going to stand for.

Vudu also has a plentiful selection of pornographic movies available to its customers. A person briefed on the Wal-Mart deal said the retailer would close down that category “immediately.”

For those of you who have Playstation3 and XBOX360 I don’t know that there is too much that you can be happy with here, 360 and PS3 both have NetFlix capabilities, PS3 has the Sony Store, which I think is a bit pricey and you can also use programs like TVersity and PlayOn to stream sites like YouTube and Hulu.

FCC released a profile of Americans least likely to use broadband, as they try to bring the internet to all Americans:

It seems the government wants some of the action that the internet has to offer. As the recession rages on and people are without work the government is focusing some of its efforts on making sure that all Americans can have the internet.  The FCC has released a report on who is least likely to use the internet.

From the Wall Street Journal:

About 35% of Americans aren’t using high-speed Internet at home, the FCC says. Older Americans, the less-educated, lower-income Americans and some minority groups – including non-English speaking Hispanics – as less likely than average to subscribe to broadband. The agency is releasing the report Tuesday morning at an event in Washington. Only four percent of American households don’t have access to any high-speed broadband at home, the survey says, which means 31% of households aren’t subscribing for other reasons.

To paraphrase the WSJ, this is how the demographics brake down:

Digitally Distant: 10% of American population. Mostly elderly and retired.

Digital Hopefuls: 8% of the America population  these people can’t pay for internet. 26% Hispanic and 20% African American. Some are digitally illiterate.

Digitally Uncomfortable: They make up 7% of Americas population. They have the money but don’t buy internet because of a lack of skills or they don’t feel too comfortable with the internet.

Near Converts: 10% of the American population. They have internet, but Its generally dial up. They don’t like paying and they have high-speed internet at work.

This kind of stuff always scares me, because once the government start providing internet for everyone, then it makes it a lot easier for them to regulate the web, something that does not need to happen at all.

From Broadband.gov:

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) was signed into law on February 17, 2009. The Broadband Initiatives funded in the Act are intended to accelerate broadband deployment across the United States. The Recovery Act authorizes the FCC to create a National Broadband Plan, that “shall seek to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability and shall establish benchmarks for meeting that goal.”

The Future of Media: Radio

Posted in Music, Technology with tags , , , , on October 14, 2009 by raingeg

What will happen to radio? My prediction is that music radio will be gone within a decade if radio stations don’t start taking a new approach to music radio, well, it could be considered an old approach. The best part about old radio was the jocks, some might say that people don’t want to hear the jocks anymore, but I beg to differ. They don’t want to hear the jocks talking about useless junk. I would submit that if music radio took a highly opinionated and music savvy jock and just let him loose he would actually bring in listeners. Just let the DJ play what the DJ wants to play, and if the DJ wants to not play something or even say how much he dislikes a certain band, let him do so! I know that there are people that will disagree with this approach, but I think its the only real way that music radio can be salvaged. Pleasing everyone is a very hard thing to do, in fact its darn near impossible to do, so stop trying to do it.

The second thing that music radio can do to improve, is to start creating one to three hour long blocks out of the day and gear those blocks to certain audiences. We’re already seeing this on some stations but it is not done nearly enough. For instance, the rock hour or the hard-rock block. Just three hours of hard-rock with the same jock, playing what he wants to play, much like The Alice Cooper show. This is a very talk radio style approach to music radio, but I think it is a way to make radio more entertaining. If both of these methods, opinionated, music savvy jocks and block shows were implemented, I think music radio has a better chance of being salvaged.

If those two methods don’t get implemented, forget about listening to the radio for music, you might as well just buy an iPod or listen to Pandora on your phone. The internet and technology has ruined the old radio industry and a new type of radio is emerging in the form of pod casting and music radio is going away because people can create their own play lists of music that they want to hear.

Lets say something like what I recommended happens and music radio still dies, what happens then? I think that within a decade you will see talk radio shifting gears and completely moved over to the FM side of the dial. A trend that we are already seeing a lot of. The value of the FM radio station will go down and AM will be rendered obsolete. Something that might happen, as the value of AM radio stations drop, as a result of everything moving to FM, smaller entities might take over AM stations, possibly religious or independent groups, and use them to provide very low-fi radio, provided the FCC would let that happen.

Internet stream in cars is not far off. You can already hook up your Blackberry to an AUX port in your car while streaming Pandora. As technology like that improves and cars start connecting to the web, radio over the internet in the car will be a reality.

All in all, music radio has run its course. I am sad to see it leaving, but I am not sad about what’s on the horizon. Technology will improve and the internet will expand, and the internet will be the “transmitter” and a web based iPod or phone will be the radio. Will the jock all but disappear? That is yet to be seen.

In the coming days I will write about all of the media industries in depth and tell you what I think will happen to them. So be sure to look for these posts interspersed with my normal blog activity.

Please read my introduction to this series by clicking here.

Tech vs. Deregulation, Why Is Radio Dying?

Posted in Music, Technology with tags , , on April 30, 2009 by raingeg

If you work in radio, read anything about radio, or if you are one of the few people who still listens to the radio, you probably know the future of radio is unclear. There are many arguments as to why the radio industry is failing. Many attribute it to the “deregulation”, which started in the 80’s and continued in the 90’s. Others, like myself, tend to blame new technology; and there are some who blame both.

I would actually side with the theory that deregulation is to blame for the current state of the radio industry, if not for one little issue: it’s happening in every medium. It’s not just radio that has been wobbled by the rise of technology. The internet and computers have changed everything for every medium and that has allowed for more freedom than ever before. Radio, the recording industry, record distributors, software distributors, the book industry and their distributors, newspapers and even television are feeling it.

As the popularity of blogs rise, some people get scared because there’s so much freedom when it comes to information distribution, but I tend to feel pretty good about it. These days newspapers lack the clout they once had and no longer are they totally reliable when it comes to lack of bias – much of the news is designed for nothing more than selling advertisements. The fact is that yellow journalism is the norm and bias that in the past was close to nonexistent or fairly well covered up, is prevalent. Am I afraid of that bias? No not really because when all is said and done facts are facts and the reliable sources will be just that, reliable. Any bad and unreliable source will be regarded as unusable and will either fade from existance, go even further into weird land, or try to clean up their act.

The same concept applies when it comes to the recording and record distribution industry. Record execs are scared because any kid can download Audacity (a completely free audio recording program), or buy ProTools and go to work. The internet is key to distributing music and allowing people to listen to music. No longer is having an actual CD important. And no longer is being signed the “be all end all” of being in a band, in some cases it hurts bands and depletes their following if they are signed to a major label. Now, bands tend to create their own label or join a label with other local bands they are associated with. Do It Yourself (DIY) bands have been around for decades, but now the bar has been lowered and the big boys and the little guys are nearly at the same level as far as potential to distribute goes.

The same goes for the radio industry. The emergence of the iPod has changed everything and the music side of radio is hurting. There are many alternatives to radio with sites like Pandora, Last FM and even MySpace, which all allow free access to music. And in what seems like an attempt to kick’em while their down, congress wants to pass new music taxes that would effect both music and talk radio.

While I believe talk radio has more staying power, it too is down for the count. As podcasting becomes prevalent and “on demand” media is the norm, advertising agencies and radio stations are in a tizzy because they don’t know how to respond. No longer is the listener on the station’s time, the listener is calling the shots. And as technology increases and it takes fewer employees to operate a station, voice talent for small cities is being outsourced to larger cities. The disk jockey of the past is old hat. So while I don’t think radio as a whole will die, radio as we know it will definitely be gone.

So what will happen in the future? Advertising agencies will have to find new ways to attack this market. Some already know the answer – take Hulu for example, you get a free television show or movie if you can endure about four 15 second ads per show. 15 seconds is tolerable but the 30 and 60 second spots of the past are slowly becoming obsolete. As attention spans shrink in America and around the world companies must adapt. Technology has changed everything and I am willing to bet that when we finally think we’ve got this thing figured out, technology will rear its head and companies will have to start from square one once again.

Read this and more articles like it plus a whole lot more at Internet Radio Magazine.

Tech Update 2

Posted in Technology with tags , , , , , on November 20, 2008 by raingeg

Ping.fm

I have to credit blogger TucsonSammy for showing me Ping.fm. Ping.fm gives you the ability to post the same update messages on different sites simultaneously. I use it to update my facebook and my twitter page at the same time. But in the future I will start looking at way’s to use Ping.fm with WordPress, so I can take advantage of it on my blog. Go to the website and check it out, if your into social networking and you don’t want to have to update them all at different times this is great for you.

Ping.fm Homepage

ZaraRadio

Ok, so if you know anything about how radio automation works this is going to be great for you. I learned the basics of this program in about 2 minutes. If you don’t know anything about radio automation software this will be slightly more complicated, but a lot less complicated than the stuff that real radio stations use. Zararadio is perfect for a pod caster or web radio show host. If you are a good multi-tasker you might be able to pre-load an hour of breaks and do your show alone.

It has some good features. There is a clock, also instant info on the date, temperature and humidity, a very large cue window, and an easy way drag and drop files into the cue, so the interface is fairly easy to use. There are a lot of express buttons for quick and easy instant sound clips. It play’s wmv, mp3 and ogg files. The log feature takes note of everything you do if you’d like to go back and look at something that played. Something that I’ve not used is the DTMF tone detector, but it sounds like an interesting plus for a free program, it gathers tones that satellite programs emit to know when to get to go to a break. Another interesting feature is the “talk over” function which takes audio down in order for an announcer to talk over it, and would really aid anyone that is running a show or acting as a DJ on their own. Other features include password protect, event schedulers, track crossfade, end of song detector, and five players (1 main + 4 aux).

There are some things that I’d like to see. First is a way to trigger the cue via the keyboard, it would make for easier and a more effective error free way to start commercials or songs. Saving the title of your “jingles” page is slightly annoying and actually saving a setup in the cue did not work out for me the first time I tried it, but I might have to try it again once I have a different computer setup. I am not a fan of the list of files on the left side of the screen, I’d prefer a more friendly way to look at your files.

Overall, this is a great free program, I’ve tried many free automation programs and they all tend to be beta programs or “free to try” so they only give you half of the features. ZaraRadio gives you all of the features and makes for a good program.

The ZaraRadio Homepage

Screenshots

TV Better Shape Up or Ship Out

Posted in Technology with tags , on September 8, 2008 by raingeg

I love technology, but I also like a good sitcom and a good laugh. It seems that sometimes technology makes life a little less humorous. The other night I was watching Mad About You, a sitcom from the 90’s about a married couple living in New York City. The episode revolved around Paul and Jamie getting separated on two different subway’s. The first thing I thought was, why not just use your cell phone? Then I realized that unlike now, about 15 years ago, cell phones weren’t as prevalent. You couldn’t just send your friend a text message or call them up. I often ask myself how people did it back in the day, how did they end up going anywhere or meeting up with anybody? I guess people just made plans and stuck to them, because of this, we probably had a less flakey citizenry. But if you think about it, its ironic how that plot line couldn’t very easily be used in today’s society. That doesn’t mean things aren’t funny these day’s, it just means that the world we live in is different. We are going to have to be extra creative, as we try to find way’s around how implausible a life without everyone being connected has become.

Technology as a whole has flipped the television world on its head, needless to say technology is winning the fight. With sites like Youtube there is very little the business end of television can do. I actually don’t think very high priced 10 and 5 second ads for video entertainment are very far off. They will probably sell them for what 60 and 30 second ads are selling for now. Life is speeding up, and people want their media when and where they want it on their own terms, not on a networks terms. That is why the term “On Demand” has become so popular. The cable companies sure are getting it, but the networks are only slightly catching on.

Most of the big television networks are offering their show’s for free online, but that isn’t good enough. People don’t only want to be able to watch their favorite show’s online anytime, they want to watch it on their living room TV, without having to download a different player every time. And if the television networks were smart they would make their media as accessible as possible. If the desired media is easy to access that will then make the advertisers message easy to access. There’s an easy way to do it too! RSS video feeds, that way people can use software like TVersity (stay tuned I have a post about it coming up) and they can receive their updates where and whenever they want them.

Its a different world now, the people have really given the companies a run for their money. They want fast, easy, and free media at the touch of a button and its as simple as that. And if they can’t get it from the networks and companies they will get it some other way.