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July 26, 2005

The Space Shuttle Launch

I just took fifteen minutes out of my day to watch the United States return to space with the launch of the space shuttle. It was spectacular. NASA mounted a camera on the rocket booster so you could see the shuttle pulling away from earth and then actually see the shuttle separate from the rocket. Totally cool.

The neatest thing about watching this launch was was that I got to see it on the NASA channel on my DirectTV system. The networks and the major news services never allow you experience anything. They feel that they are not doing their job if they aren't yaking all the time. This leads them imparting minutia, repeating themselves over and over again, and making asinine comments. You know comments like "The rocket boosters are naturally that orange because the don't paint them" or "The Kennedy Space Center is located in central Florida - that's really close to Disney World" or " The rocket boosters are naturally that orange because the don't paint them".

NASA TV has a commentator. He tells you what's happening but only when something actually happens. For instance, you hear the shuttle crew announce that the shuttles computers have take control of the launch at -25 seconds. The commentator explains this and then he does something unprecedented - he shuts up until the next event happens. In the time in between his comments you are free to enjoy what you are watching - one of the most complex set of systems ever assembled in operation.

12:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 17, 2005

Broadband - How Much is Enough

Sprint sent me a nice letter in the mail today. Since I'm such a "valued" customer they offered to lower my DSL rate by $15/mo - OR - I can have double the download rate for the same price I'm paying now. Which leads me to think about how much I actually need. We keep getting faster and faster service but is their a line out there where we can say that's enough. It's what I need.

This has already happened with computers. Unless your big into gaming the average off the shelf desktop for less than a $1000 is going to meet your needs. Even I as a developer don't have to have the ultra-high-end laptop anymore to be more efficient. We've reached a place where most people are satisfied, but where is that line with Internet connection speed? To find the answer we must look to TIVO.

TIVO is revolutionizing the way we watch TV. IT claims that it disconnects TV from linear time. In a way it does but, it is only half of the puzzle. TIVO is still an illusion of control over TV. Why? Because it turns a linear source into a non-linear source. In other words the programs we receive and watch from our TIVO in a non-linear manner are still delivered in a very much linear fashion. Survivor is on at 8 p.m. on Thursday night. If it's 7:30 you can't watch it. If its 9 p.m. and you forgot to set your TIVO you can call my parents on the west coast to tape it for you (at least that's what I do). Cable and satellite companies give us some illusion that we can see what we want when want by giving us 500 channels for pick from. Unfortunately this has only served to highlight the total lack of quality programming that Hollywood delivers. Ever sit down when there is nothing in particular you want to watch and try to find something interesting on those 500 channels?

We need more broadband to kill network TV and cable channels. Right now the networks call the shots on what you see and when you see it but when we have enough connection speed we can eliminate them. Studios like Paramount and Universal make TV shows for the networks and believe me they get the short end of the stick until the the show can be be syndicated. One winner syndicated show is worth 10 lousy shows to the studios. But what if the studios could deliver the content to you directly? What if they did not have to take the short end of the stick?

How much broadband is enough? When anyone can get a hi-def picture delivered to their TV in real time that will be enough. That's the key. The Brady Bunch is owned by Paramount Pictures and is currently syndicated to one of the family channels. What if Paramount set up a "Brady Bunch" server with every episode ever made. Now you can watch any episode any time you want. You can pause it. You can come back to it three days later and its in the same place just like TIVO but better. You can either pay a nominal subscription fee to Paramount and view the episode without commercial interuption or Paramount will be happy to show it to you for free with paid commercials - that you can't fast forward - injected in. From Paramounts perspective the really cool thing is that the commercials they present can be based on your demographic profile. If you are 25 there will be no annoying adds for retirement villages and denture cream.

This would also work for new programs. The studios don't need the networks to present the shows anymore. They make a commitment to post new episode of 24 every Monday at 1 a.m. You can watch it anytime after its posted. This would be especially great for serial style shows like 24 and reality TV where its important to have seen previous episodes to understand what's going on.  If you want to start watching 24 10 episodes into the season - forget it! But if there is a "24" server out there delivering content to you, You can start from the beginning. All shows are available all the time.

This is my dream for the Internet and TV. Cut out the networks and let the people choose what to watch and when. When we we have enough speed to accomplish this on the Hi-Def standard that will be enough.

10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)