Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Beacon Journal | 01/31/2006 | Akron quaked, rattled, rolled

Beacon Journal | 01/31/2006 | Akron quaked, rattled, rolled

Ohio, earthquake central? Hard to beleive but apparently we are fairly active EAST of the Mississippi.

I do remember the quake in 1986 - I was actually in a class at the University of Akron. It was an economics class so it woke us all up ;).

Monday, January 30, 2006

The truth is free

Random Meanderings: I'm not weird. I'm gifted.

I am clearing out some old saved items in Bloglines and thought I would throw this out there. I do not have much time to dig into this site, but maybe someone might find it interesting.

Hacking NetFlix : Networks Make $1.44 on iTunes Video Downloads

Hacking NetFlix : Networks Make $1.44 on iTunes Video Downloads

Interesting info about how some of this works for those of us not in the industry. I found this from the Hollywood Reporter article interesting as well

The content owners take from downloading is nearly the same that a commercial-fee TV series episode generates from a DVD boxed set, according to Nielsen Entertainment analyst Larry Gerbrandt, who has done the most exhaustive analysis of on-demand program economics to date.

The down side of this is that the content owner can make the same amount of money without any real work. Assuming all the costs for the media (art work, etc) and bonus material. This could mean that future DVD releases will have less materials, or they will jack up the costs with the bonus material being an excuse.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Beacon Journal | 01/29/2006 | Summit's warning system in place

Beacon Journal | 01/29/2006 | Summit's warning system in place

In interesting warning system. Instead of trying to get TV & Radio stations to broadcast warnings you instead get a phone call. Sounds like a realization - with satelitte options you no longer have to watch local stations. The Beacon Journal has also had a falling in subscribers as well - making it tougher to get out local news.

Also, as the article pointed out, during THE blackout in 2003 there was limited ways to keep people notified as to what was going on.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Coulter Jokes About Poisoning Justice - Yahoo! News

Coulter Jokes About Poisoning Justice - Yahoo! News

If Al Franken or some other liberal person had made a similar comment I bet they would be hanging by their toes outside the White House now. Bet no one even pays attention to this comment by Coulter.

Of course the line "She drew more boos when she said the crack cocaine problem "has pretty much gone away."" shows how out of touch she is.

RII & �What would Descartes subscribe to?� | 43 Folders

RII & �What would Descartes subscribe to?� | 43 Folders

I have seen myself in this loop all too often. I really like the quote:

But sometimes I’m just procrastinating with lightning efficiency.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Family Of Five Found Alive In Suburbs | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Family Of Five Found Alive In Suburbs | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Definately a funny read and well worth it. My thanks to John Andersen for the link. John's site is a great read as well.

It was funny for me to read the article and realize how little I take advantage of my city dwelling. Granted our art museum is currently working out of temporary digs, but they are still showing some stuff. Plus there are still plenty of theater productions, concerts, etc. Granted the Akron Symphony is not internationally known, but 20 odd years ago they were pretty good.

Time to leverage my butt of the couch and get out in the world.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

RSS feeds | Congress votes database | washingtonpost.com

RSS feeds | Congress votes database | washingtonpost.com

I was cleaning out some saved entries from Bloglines and came across this from Dave Winer. This page is a MUST have page for anyone who is in any way interested in what is going on in D. C.

The next step would be to have similar feeds for state government. City/county government would be nice, but this is where the local newspaper comes into play.

Beacon Journal | 01/25/2006 | Old mill in park coming down

Beacon Journal | 01/25/2006 | Old mill in park coming down

Having seen this factory I have to agree it is a hazard and needs to come down. I do find it ironic that a building with asbestos burned down.

Techdirt:Music Execs Confuse "Choice" With Making You Pay Over And Over Again

Techdirt:Music Execs Confuse "Choice" With Making You Pay Over And Over Again:

This is the most telling sign that main stream media (MSM) don't get it:

"'Without DRM, the explosion in the availability of music via digital channels would not have been possible. The purpose of DRM is not to alienate music fans, it is actually to improve your access to music. There are now at least 10 ways in which you can legally enjoy music - the list includes: ringtone, master ringtone, phone download, phone stream, a-la-carte download, disc, subscription, online stream, UMD music for PlayStation, kiosk and video. Without DRM, these options simply wouldn't be possible.' "

Later, a quote from the same guy:

"I agree with you we'd like nothing more than for you to be able to download or transfer music securely between your phone, your home and work PC, a couple of your players and your home Hi-Fi system, for example. But we don't make the technology, we create the music. It's the technology companies that hold the key to achieving this

Ummmm, yea, right. I know of few (ok, none) in the tech industry who would argue that we should NOT be able to copy music around our various devices legally. The only reason iTunes has been able to survive without lawsuits is to slap some pretty tight digital rights management (DRM) onto the system that does not allow for this kind of sharing. Trust me - DRM-free downloads would have been much easier for Apple to impliment. MSM insisted on it.

My guess - 75% of us are people who only want to get the music we want and make sure the artist gets fairly compensated. We do NOT want to have to pay for that music over and over again. In the movie Men In Black K (Tommy Lee Jones) talkes about having to by the White album again. All we want to do is avoid having to keep doing that!

BTW I think there are about 15% of people, mostly kids, who would pay for music if they could afford it and 10% who would never pay for music and will always get it illegally. iTunes and other services allow for getting that one song that 15% wants. The other 10% you are stuck with. You will never turn a profit with them anyways. No doubt some of that 10% would be willing to pay an artist directly for their work, so maybe the internet works for them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

UPN, WB to Combine to Form New Network - Yahoo! News

UPN, WB to Combine to Form New Network - Yahoo! News

This is semi-worrisome. 20% of what I watch is on these channels. I hate to see more consolidation in media.

Google Base

Google Base

I have checked on this from time to time to see if anything really sticks out on this.

Google Base seems to be a way to put content on the web if a) you don't have a website and/or b) you want to wrap some meta-data around it.

Option a seems silly to me. You can get a blog site for free which requires NO knowledge to setup and run. Hey, Google has such a site itself. Anyone tech-savvy enough to surf the net can use Blogger.

Option b also seems a little silly. Microformats provide a way to add some meta data. For some of the things, like recipes or want ads, why not create a microformat to facilitate searching?

Looking through some of there posted items you see things like Events & Activities (similar to Upcoming and classifieds like Craigslist.

Now the classified idea is not bad since Craigslist does not cover all cities, but this feels like a "me too" type of service. Google, much like Microsoft or Yahoo, wants to provide ALL your data services. Many of the guys at Off The Hook agree that having that much data concentrated at one spot is not a good idea. I have to agree. Google maybe good about security, but as we have seen recently in the news even some of the best can be compromised. Think about what would happen if someone took your computer. Think about what would happen if someone broke into Google (or any of the others) and got all your personal data.

Beacon Journal | 01/24/2006 | Smoking foes test air in bars

Beacon Journal | 01/24/2006 | Smoking foes test air in bars

An interesting article about the readings of the air in bars, and one reason I hate going to them or anywhere the allows smoking.

I have my 53K wrist band as a reminder about the 53,000 people who die from second hand smoke each year. We know this to be a preventable problem so why not prevent it?

Monday, January 23, 2006

EFF: New Senate Broadcast Flag Bill Would Freeze Fair Use

EFF: DeepLinks

Big media screams "the sky is falling" and tries to legislate the future.

It is interesting when other industries cry "we're loosing profits" they are told "oh well", but when big media is loosing profits it becomes a need to pass bad legislation. Let me give you a hint - if there is a need to change how media is handled someone will invent it. Just because we pass stupid laws in America does not mean other countries will follow suit. And trust me no amount of trade agreements will smooth this over. We keep this up and people will pull out of those agreements.

Take a look around people - the economy sucks. Gas is estimated to go over $3/gallon again. Guess what happens when gas is that much? People don't spend as much on stuff like CDs or DVDs. We don't go to movie theaters and wait for it on DVD. Many people are not BUYING CDs but instead are RENTING their music through legitimate services like Napster. As has been pointed out many times - why pay $15-$20 for 1 CD when that same amount will let you load up an MP3 player full of different music, and you can keep getting different music all through the month.

We pay $30, $40, $50 or more for cable/satellite TV. Now instead of "13 channels of shit on the TV to choose from" (to quote Pink Floyd) we have 70, 80, 200, or even more channels of shit. With all these choices we do not have to even rent movies or music sometimes - so much stuff is available to the consumer without even having to leave the house.

The problem is with so much spectrum to fill, you tend to get a lot of "lowest common denominator" stuff to fill the gaping void. Problem is - we are tired of it. How many more Britney Spears clones are you going to send our way (who, to me at least, is a clone of Madonna, but I digress)? How many more "reality" shows? I really paid attention to what I want to watch weekly - about 9.5 hours of TV that I REALLY want to watch. Given that 2 of those hours are reruns of shows that I really like that leaves 7.5 hours of original programming a week. One of those shows is Monk (which I download from iTunes now) that is only on 16 weeks a year. The 3 hours that I would consider "prime" TV (8-11) is 21 hours a week. I have 22 stations (including some shop-at-home stuff), which means I have the potential of 462 hours of entertainment a week. If you have one of the local satellite's 150 channel package that is 3150 hours of entertainment. I think I had 65 channels which was 1,365 hours. Of that I found 9.5 hours of entertainment, which is why I am now on the cheaper cable package.

Then there is Netflix. Last I heard they had some 50,000 titles. You local video store may have, what, 5000 titles? 10,000 titles? Netflix can get those little rented titles, like the entire Sundance Film Festival line up, that your local Blockbuster cannot. Yet more choices...

Now enter the internet. Aside from the music services above, ANY musician, video producer, or other content provider can make stuff available to the public. This makes places like CD Baby possible. This opens up the flood gates. You no longer need to go to a big label to get your music/video out - you can market directly to your fans.

And maybe that is the problem. Not only are the middlemen being squeezed out but also the top of the food chain, so to speak. We can find great music (or at least music like what we already have) that is completely independent of the RIAA. We can get movies that are as good as anything put out by MPAA members. We can get radio shows that are as good as anything on the air - terrestrial or satellite. Some for free, some for money, but all not controlled by the powers that be. Face it, every time we spend money on an independent artist we take money out of the pockets of the RIAA/MPAA members. It is all legal, but non-RIAA/MPAA.

Blogging started the wedge to break up main stream media, podcasting got the crack formed, and I think the powers the be see video podcasting (or whatever you want to call it) as splitting the dam wide open. Face it - we don't need "them" any more. So instead of trying to learn the new game they want to make the new game illegal.

Thanks to Todd (I think) over at Geek News Central

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Overly geeky story

Mondays is a group of geeks talking about all kinds of things, usually geeky.

A while back Richard Campbell had related a story about Goliath, an old HD. It reminded me of The Story of Mel.

For this episode the broke out the story of Goliath (click on the Story of Goliath link on the page) for anyone who does not want to wade through an hour episode to listen to the story. The story is geeky, but for anyone who wants to hear a description of an early (and I do mean EARLY) hard drive it is worth the 11 minutes the whole story takes. The language is at least PG-13, and I think R so use caution around young kids.

Beacon Journal | 01/18/2006 | Strickland's wins national attention

Beacon Journal | 01/18/2006 | Strickland's wins national attention

As a long time Strickland's customer this is cool. I live 10 minutes or so from their original location, which is still the best in my opinion.

Rice: Countries United in Mistrust of Iran - Yahoo! News

Rice: Countries United in Mistrust of Iran - Yahoo! News

Sniff, sniff. Hmmmm... smells like the lead up to Iraq.

Iran may not be the best country to have anything nuclear, but a lot of the rhetoric just reminds me a lot of what lead up to going into Iraq.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Technology Boosts Hard Drive Capacity - Yahoo! News

New Technology Boosts Hard Drive Capacity - Yahoo! News

I hate to say it, but is this a good thing? People already do not manage their hard drive space because space is so cheap it is easier to leave crap on the machine and add a new drive than to really clear out the stuff you are not using.

The Feb 7th issue of PC Magazine talked about 1 terabyte (1024 gigs) drives affordable by the unwashed masses by the end of the year. I realize with music, video, scads of digital pics, email, and eBooks (they have not really caught on but with electronic ink they may) we need more space than in the past. But 1 terabyte? Home servers, OK. High end home systems for people shuffling large amounts of video? Ok. Mom & dad who browse, do email and keep digital photos? Over kill.

Just like when we have to clear out our physical space, we also need to clear out our electronic space periodically.

Google to Buy Radio Ad Company - Yahoo! News

Google to Buy Radio Ad Company - Yahoo! News

An interesting connection. It will be interesting to see how Google's adsense would work on hooking up ads with radio stations.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

More useless laws?

Council listens, then votes for quiet

Let's see, my property is 150 x 50'. If it is more than 80' from my property then it is a violation. Most of my neighbors live withing that stretch. Oh, and by the way, Akron already has an ordinance on the books so this does not apply to you.

After seeing the fiasco of the smoking ban, which did not apply to Akron also, county government is becoming more and more useless by the day. Why do they bother with this kind of crap?

I hate MP3 juke boxes

I have decided that I hate my Creative Labs Zen Extra. Ok, normally I LOVE the thing - nice interface, big buttons for fat fingers, and great price. I can even suffer with the lack of a play count on the thing (which would make syncing podcasts a TON simplier).

However I just reloaded a chunk of my music after doing a firmware upgrade. This thing holds 40 gig. I had about 10-12 gig on it, and I have a fair chunk of it to go. Unfortunately I lost a chunk of my ripped music with my hard drive failure last year, which means instead of copying it to my external HD (a Western Digital Passprot USB 40 gig drive) from the Zen I have to re-rip about 50 CDs.

Granted I was warned before hand, and I should have waited to make sure I had everything on my Passport. But given the size of jukeboxes (and they are getting bigger) there should be a way to upgrade the firmware without wiping the drive. Especially for those of us who still have USB 1.1 on our machines.

On a semi-related note - if you have a Creative Labs MP3 player, pick up Notmad Explorer. Yea it costs $25, but I just zipped all my music over quickly, and when you add a directory(ies) it will ask you if you want to create a playlist. Without a playcount this is a great way to get the latest stuff you just added, and makes working with your MP3 player as easy as working with a Windows app. Best $25 I spent on software in a long time.

Technorati Tags: Creative Labs, Music, Notmad Explorer,Toys

Old Records = Customer Good Will?

NPR : Copyright Laws Severely Limit Availability of Music

Over 70% of music recorded before 1965 cannot be purchased legally in the US

That is a telling number. This is why people share music. Here is another quote from the article:

Sound recordings made after 1972 are protected by federal law. Recordings made before that were covered by state and common law copyright. These laws do not have expiration dates. The Library of Congress study found that 84 percent of recordings from before 1965 cannot be reissued without permission from the copyright holder, which is usually the original record label.

Here is what sucks - there is no LEGAL way to get this music. How many of the people who are trading these old albums would be willing to pay if the music were made available? If people are manually recording these albums into MP3, why couldn't some of these record labels do the same thing (no need to digitally remaster them) and make them available through iTunes or some similar means? I have heard similar problems with stuff released as late as the 80s. No money = no CD and definately to reissue to iTunes.

The record companies complain about piracy, lost sales, blah blah yet they treat their customers like criminals and do not respond to customers' needs. Want to earn some good will? Release some back catalog to MP3. Why not just release some of these old (the pre-1965) recordings to the public domain or creative commons? How much would it cost to have an intern record some of the old records to some kind of loss less format and then convert to MP3? Show your customers you care a little about them.

Technorati: RIAA, MP3

[UPDATE: Fixed the Technorati links]

Thursday, January 05, 2006



LibriVox takes Project Gutenberg to audio. A great idea. I have not listened to anything yet, but I have my eye on a few short stories & poems.

Explaining RSS to the Unwashed Masses

Teen Mag Attenuation

By nat

The original blog entry I found interesting only because it highlights what Nat said in the post, "...magazines are often only 10% relevant to you...". RSS can help you to get the most relevant stuff, and get it quickly.

Smells like old gym socks

Akron officials unsure how to fix water problems

Now the water problem has gotten a little better, or maybe I am just used to it. Fortunately I run my water through a Britta Filter so at least I do not get the taste.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Board Rescinds 'Intelligent Design' Policy - Yahoo! News

Board Rescinds 'Intelligent Design' Policy - Yahoo! News

Overall I have no problem with Intelligent Design - except when you try to pass it off as science. Intelligent Design belongs in a philosophy class, not a science class.

"Old School's" Blue Dies - Yahoo! News

"Old School's" Blue Dies - Yahoo!

The second recognizable character actor. Quite the resume of parts.

You're my boy, Blue!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Video iPod + Short Run Series = Happy Customers

I was watching i TV which was running both Mysterious Ways and Body & Soul. Mysterious Ways ran for 44 episodes and Body & Soul only aired 8 (a ninth was never aired). I loved both of these series - both were shows I would go out of my way to watch.

Given these shows originally aired on Pax TV (which I think is now i TV based upon the shows on i), and they were some of the worst rated original shows on Pax, I doubt these shows will ever be put out on DVD. Not enough "perceived market" for these shows, based upon their ratings when on the air. Two other shows that I like, and would buy if available, are Tremors: The Series & The Others.

Truth be told, only Tremors: The Series probably has the numbers to warrent a full, proper DVD release. Tremors has a built in cult following. Mysterious Ways could pick up some viewers in DVD release, in my opinion. The other two are more "add to my NetFlix queue" type of series.

However, with the new video iPod and iTunes having TV series, could some of these old series get new life? I know some of the hang up has been music rights, but only 1 of these series might have had expensive music. This would allow for the fans to get the series at a reasonable cost, the owner of the rights would make a little more money with minimal (or no) outlay on their part. I am not an iTunes fan, but I would use it and maybe even buy a video iPod if that would let me have these series.