Dennis Haarsager's rolling environmental scan for electronic media. "Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us." --Jerry Garcia "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." --Bob Seger
Broadcasters (MSTV, et al.) have been fighting the introduction of unlicensed broadband devices in the spectrum they occupy citing interference concerns. Both sides have been conducting tests. The New America Foundation's Wireless Future Program has been an advocate for this more permissive use of the TV spectrum and it has issued a new policy brief by Sascha D. Meinrath and Michael Calabrese, The Feasibility of Unlicensed Broadband Devices to Operate on TV Band 'White Space' Withoug Causing Harmful Interference: Myths & Facts. Link: New America Foundation (see attached pdf). --Dennis
... After an 11-hour delay to the start of its monthly meeting, the FCC voted 5-0
at about 10 p.m. to require cable systems to distribute local TV stations that
demand carriage in both analog and digital formats for a three-year period
starting Feb. 18, 2009. That’s the day after all 1,756 full-power TV stations
must turn off their analog signals and rely exclusively on their digital feeds.
Cable systems that are all-digital are exempt from the FCC’s dual carriage
mandate. ¶ [Chairman] Martin’s [original] plan called for dual must carry without the 2012 sunset, which the
FCC did reserve the right to extend. Lobbying pressure from the National Cable
& Telecommunications Association forced Martin to yield not only on
perpetual dual carriage but also on a second priority: Requiring cable systems
to transmit “all content bits” in a digital TV signal, thereby eliminating the
use of signal compression and statistical multiplexing that husband
No doubt about it, Apple's iPhone and iPod touch continue that company's record of high class
industrial design. But if Steve Jobs's taste and focus make for great-looking consumer products, his tightly-integrated hardware/DRM/software business model is more a throwback to the great (and sometimes unfairly labeled) "robber baron" industrialists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ironically, this business style is about as far from the culture of the Web as any company active in this space today. I hope Apple's design sense goes on forever, but the days for its business model are numbered.
The touch takes the iPhone, removes the mediocre camera and mediocre 2G GSM radio, and substitutes a Wi-Fi radio, and the maximum memory is a small 16 GB (though that is double the iPhone's). My son, writing from Rotterdam, had the following reaction to the touch:
... This ipod, the full touchscreen ipod, I've been waiting for so long, it's incredible, exactly what we all wanted - except - 8gb/16gb? This is next to nothing! My ipod, the grandpa of ipods from a whole 4 years ago, is a 15gb. ...
Most importantly to folks in my business, it continues the crippled version of the Safari
browser. Like a TV cable box with parental controls, it
lets you access only media on the web that "Dad" Jobs wants you to
access -- in this case, the iTunes Store of course, YouTube and one of the newest media companies, Starbucks (see Gerd Leonhard's reaction to the Starbucks announcement). Only this isn't to keep you from naughty lyrics, it's to ensure you don't use any media that doesn't give Apple a cut.
The paucity of memory on the touch is puzzling, especially when Apple simultaneously released the iPod Classic with 160 GB of storage. Why limit what you can store on the only device they have that permits paid downloads from iTunes?
On the subject of the Classic's large storage, read Bob Lefsetz's progressive vision of what Apple should do with this storage:
... It’s like we’re living in the twilight zone. The labels are stuck in
the nineties and the public is in the twenty first century. Who even
HAS 4,000 albums? ¶
A lot of people. Oh, not as CDs. But as MP3s, stolen from the Net, their friends, their family. ¶ People WANT music. The labels just can’t figure out how to sell it to them. ¶ Took
them over three years to even deliver it easily online at a reasonable
price (2003’s iTunes Store). But, they still haven’t given people what
they want. How about a 160 gig iPod PRELOADED with the greatest hits of
the sixties? Or the history of dance music? Don’t bother to steal the
music, you can get it, for an extra fifty bucks. ...
Link: Lefsetz Letter. Right on. In the end, preloading will win out over even the iTunes Store -- because folks will realize that its superior pricing rationality and security will kill off virtually all piracy. If the 2007 iPod Classic holds 40,000 songs. With Moore's Law progression, we'll have a 1 TB iPod in five years. Will be a nice retirement gift. Hint, hint.
P.S.: The picture above (taken at about the same age as Steve Jobs is now) is of "robber baron" James J. Hill, "The Empire Builder," whose railroad's advertising in Scandinavia and then its tracks were largely responsible for getting my grandparents and thousands of others to Minnesota in the 1880s.
No, this isn't tagging in the Web sense, as in "folksonomy" (del.icio.us, et al.), but rather new capabilities built into certain HD Radio receivers that will enable listeners who are using those receivers to listen to stations that are encoding their music in a certain way to tag songs as they hear them and have those data sent to iTunes for purchase of the songs.
Two recent articles in Radio World describe the process:
From Polk, JBL Radios Combine HD-R, iPod & iTunes Tagging:
... Using Apple iTunes tagging, users can buy songs they hear on HD Radio
stations. The radio stores information about the tagged songs to its memory and
transfers the tags to an iPod when docked. When the consumer connects the iPod
to his/her computer, iTunes automatically presents the songs in a new Tagged
play-list for the consumer to preview, buy, and download. ...
And from ‘Go Commerce’ Available for iTunes HD-R Tagging and Analog RDS:
... Jump2Go Founder/CTO Allen Hartle told Radio World that with its proprietary
technology, the company is the sole provider of the behind-the-scenes service
that synchronizes a staion’s programming with the iTunes unique song identifiers
that make RDS and HD Radio “tagging” possible. This is in addition to
iTunes-based e-commerce fulfillment on station Web sites. ¶ The tagging service for Apple iTunes and HD Radio begins with a station’s
automation system, using BE’s The Radio Experience software relaying on-air
events to the Jump2Go data center for “tagging.” The Jump2Go service assigns the
unique iTunes identifier to each song and then the tag data is inserted into the
IBOC bitstream. (For RDS tagging, songs get two identifying numbers, one for
iTunes and another Jump2Go number that the company could use for other MP3
player song services such as the Microsoft Zune in the future, Hartle said.) ...
Mark Ramsey, an HD Radio skeptic, seems to think they're nuts in a post, And the good ideas keep on coming... Link: hear 2.0.
This does have a sort of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" feel to it,
though it does provide an interesting new avenue for revenue and
another incentive for people to buy HD Radio receivers. I'm inclined to support it, though, since I'm attracted to the idea of marrying HD Radio and Internet radio in one box and we need all the incentives for people to get started in HDR that we can find. --Dennis
... says emerging media professional Jeremy Lockhorn. In part 1, he says to go interactive:
... If you're a digital agency or a marketer who's significantly investing
in online media, you're already aware of this. It's like expanding
banner ads, but on TV. Simply by empowering consumers to interact with
your ad, you increase the likelihood they'll remember what you're
trying to tell them or take action. We've proven this with ads like the
one we built for the launch of Levi's Redwire jeans. ...
... We've used advanced targeting techniques on the Web for years, and
many advertisers have benefited from innovations in contextual and
behavioral targeting. One of the more powerful targeting strategies is
targeting capabilities to serve an extremely relevant ad based on what
we know about an individual's relationship with the client. We might
serve one ad to someone who's never been to a retail site, for example,
and a different ad to someone who made a purchase, and yet another ad
to a user who made multiple purchases. The process gets really
interesting when you start layering dynamically generated creative
assets, which can pull in the latest prices, react to such things as
current weather conditions, and more. ¶ The result? Hyper-relevant
creative and no need to produce a ton of creative assets. Many of our
clients currently employ these approaches for online banner ads. But
what if you could apply the same basic thinking to video? ...
Local TV Web site strategies
are beginning to pay off. One in four adults have visited a local TV Web site in
the past 30 days, according to a new study from The Media Audit. Among Internet
users, nearly 40 percent are regularly visiting the local TV sites. ...
It's been said many times that content wants to be free. Or perhaps it's really that we want content to be free.
Parents who lecture their children on not downloading illegal content are themselves tapping the mute or TiVo fast-forward buttons during commercials, thereby robbing advertisers of some part of the audience they're buying. That describes my house pretty well. Voluntary payments don't work very well either. We pubcasters say that some nine in ten listeners or viewers do not contribute in a given year -- but actually that over-estimates the contributing percentage because the denominator is taken from weekly cume, while annual cume is a much greater number.
We've seen anti-DRM sentiments become an ideology among an influential segment of Internet and DVR users. Mainstream file-sharers and commercial-skippers all have some personal justification for what they do: Like, commercials are annoying -- time is precious and skipping saves me 20 minutes an hour -- record companies rip off their artists anyway -- the RIAA and MPAA are bullies -- I've already paid for it here, but want to use it there and their stupid DRM won't let me do that. Young people generally just hear "blah-blah-blah" when parents warn about downloading movies or music. You might as well be speaking Latvian.
Are people who pay for content just chumps?
If so, there are a lot of content professionals who are depending on those chumps to make a living -- a very few make a very nice living. Unlike Andrew Keen, I think it's wonderful that amateur content can now be distributed so easily and I'm doing whatever I can to encourage that. But for those of us in the content business, a way of encouraging both wide distribution and discovery of amateur content and at the same time providing an economic base for excellent professional content is the central problem of our industry today.
The best thing I've read in a long time from a content creator's point of view comes from singer-songwriter Jill Sobule -- though, frankly, I'd not heard of her before this. She's a professional, but like all professionals, her work needs discovery also. In an essay titled, Calling All Recording Gurus: I've Got Nothing to Prove, but I Still Need Your Help (See My Video!), she writes of the dilemma for artists like her:
... None of my musician friends are mourning the demise of the record
industry. Most of us got crummy deals anyway and never saw a penny of
royalties. My nephews expect really expensive birthday gifts from me,
as they think that I must be rolling in dough, having been on MTV a few
times. I always acquiesce, not wanting to tell them the truth. ¶ For us, in this YouTube, long-tail, Kara-and-Walt world, it’s an
exciting time. But it’s also confusing. How do I release my next
recordings? Do I still put out a CD in the traditional way, or just go
digital? Do I send demos one last time to the remaining majors or go
indie (this time with a company that lasts longer than a year) and get
a, say, 50/50 deal? Do I just finance the whole thing myself–musicians,
studio, marketing, publicist, radio, promo, video, etc.? And where do I
get the money? How do I pay the rent? How do I support my gambling and
morphine habits? ...
Link: All Things Digital. Yes, watch her video there and go to her web site and download the (legitimately) free 90-minute live performance. It's terrific! --Dennis
It occurs to me that this month marks a ten-year anniversary of sorts for this blog. I'm pretty sure that it was in September of 1997 that I began a little email list of things that caught my eye for members of the PBS New Technologies Committee which I was about to chair. The list grew by word of mouth and I soon had to host it on Topica.com to manage it. By the time I started this weblog in late 2003 -- largely to provide a discipline for me to keep up with my own reading -- it had grown to not quite 100 people. I overlapped the list and the blog for quite a while, but eventually that got to be too much like work, so I discontinued the mailing list (though you can now subscribe by email through the FeedBlitz option on the right).
This blog was originally hosted on Radio UserLand, but after a number of problems with slow posting, I moved it here to TypePad. Since moving here, there have been more than 3,300 posts. FeedBurner today estimated over 600 RSS and email subscribers for the first time -- a bit of a milestone. Though that loyal band is a small part of overall readership. Unique visitors were in the 6,000-7,000 per month range through February of this year, when for some reason it started growing, increasing to the 9,000-10,000 range through June, hitting nearly 14,000 in July and just over 18,000 in August. Can't tell any patterns, but by far most visitors here come through a search engine or a link from another blog. Interesting to me at least and perhaps typical of other blogs.
If you're one of the loyal types, many thanks for continuing to read this stuff! It's you that makes it worth spending a few hours each week doing this. --Dennis
About a month ago, I posted a short article to the Northwest Public Radio weblog on improving FM reception by using a decent antenna -- something that in my experience most listeners neglect. It's gotten such a good response that I'm repeating it here. ________________________________
I've been reminded recently by conversations with relatives that
people are often unaware of the need to use a good antenna for FM
reception. FM frequencies fall between channels 6 and 7 on your
television set, so the same principles apply to FM reception as for TV
reception. I received an email yesterday asking about antennas from a
listener in Bellingham who is in the "shadow" of Sehome Hill from our
KZAZ transmitter on King Mountain. If you're in such a "shadow" or if
you live a long distance from one of our transmitters (or shorter
distance from one of our translators or from a lower power station like
KZAZ, KNWO or KNWV), outdoor antennas are best.
Here's an expanded version of my reply:
options depend on the radio. Most clock radios won’t accept anything
other than the strand of wire hanging out the back and most boomboxes
rely on a built-in telescoping rod antenna. However, more
sophisticated radios will have either a pair of screw terminals or a
coaxial connector similar to what you would find on a television set.
The easiest option is to get an FM “ribbon” antenna (sometimes
called a “T antenna”), generally made of “TV twinlead,” at Radio Shack
or Wal-Mart. They’re under $5. Make sure the end of the lead-in
matches the input (screw terminals or coaxial) on your radio. You can
buy them either way. The coaxial ones are harder to find, but you can
easily find a 300-ohm to 75-ohm transformer (sometimes called a
“balun”), also for a few bucks, at the same place. Make sure it is
laid out in the shape of a T. You may need to experiment with
orientation for the best reception. [Click on the image for a larger version.]
If you have a soldering iron, you can even make one out of a
discarded piece of 300-ohm TV twinlead. Cut a piece that's 63 inches
long. Strip off one-half inch of insulation at either end and solder
the two wires together at each end. Now cut one wire in the
center of this 62-inch antenna and again strip the insulation back
one-half inch. Solder a random length of twinlead to this and connect
the other end to your radio, following the orientation directions
An alternate indoor antenna is a set of TV “rabbit ears.” Extend
the elements to 31 inches each and spread them out. This alternate has
the disadvantage of being kind of ugly, but it works well for an indoor
Radio Shack and Amazon also sell small amplified indoor FM antennas
for $30-$75, both on the Web only. They should work well and will
definitely look better in your living room, but I haven't tried them.
The very best antenna is a dedicated outdoor FM antenna pointed at
the transmitter. These are not expensive, but installation requires a
helper to orient for best reception. Be careful up on your roof! An
outdoor VHF television antenna is a good substitute, but beware when
buying because some VHF TV antennas have a “trap” for FM signals in
order to reduce interference to television stations. Make sure it's
rated for FM also.