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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief


throw out your cares and fly

i was interested in a PS3 for way more than just games - which is good, because after cashing in my gift cards for the system + a second controller, i didn't have any dough left to get any... i did grab two demos from their playstation store, i.e. a shoddy website rendered in the console's browser... for a $70 billion company you'd think they could maybe hire a decent web designer.

anyway, the demos. burnout paradise is everything i'd hoped for - gorgeous, fast, and wild. running events with no set path took a whole lot of getting used to - with no real limitations on where you can drive, knowing the route ahead of time is now just as important as not wrecking. i think i enjoy the challenge, though.

uncharted, OTOH, is sort of underwhelming. the demo has a cut-scene intro, but it doesn't hand you much in the way of a story, and as a result you are simply dropped into a jungle and Pirates-Of-The-Caribbean rejects start shooting at you. the combat and exploration are pretty good, and the visuals are stunning, but i'm kind of undecided about whether or not i want to pick up the full version.

anyway - i have plenty to keep me busy outside of games on the console. the media center functionality wasn't too tough to set up - sadly iTunes doesn't talk DLNA, but that's the music library on the PC that i actually maintain. to use the native PS3 functionality i had to use Windows Media Player's built-in DLNA sharing, and by-and-large it works well. streaming music sounds great, and video was almost all perfect (except for trying to watch the 1up show in WMV - for some reason it kept hanging, i assume because streaming video over my PC's weak wireless signal is asking too much).

remote play on the PSP was also a snap to set up - and worked great with no lag on my home network. i'm sure streaming over the internet will change that; however my dream of easy streaming any media from my PC to my PSP has been realized.

the console came with spider-man 3 on blu-ray; however since i wanted to watch a movie that didn't suck, i grabbed the newly released blade runner: final cut. i have never seen a film look that good, ever. ever. absolutely incredible. i'm convinced.

on top of that, renee got me the west wing: the complete series, so that she will be forced to watch every single episode of my favorite drama. glorious. (btw did you know that sorkin wrote charlie wilson's war? now i'm interested)

and finally: mom and dad picked up planet earth for me too, of which i'd seen bits and pieces, it's as good as you've heard, every second compelling, surprising you with the knowledge that you are on the same planet as the incredible things you are watching.

first compusa and now netscape? don't these enormous conglomerates have any regard for my adolescence?

hey you should check out wired's excellent article on the year zero ARG. a secret concert? i had no idea, that is amazing...


for this post

Blogger B-Call Says:

hdtv was made for two things; football and Planet Earth. good gift.
coming to Artie's tomorrow night?

Blogger ryanham Says:

I had just noticed yesterday during a commercial for Charlie Wilson's War that Sorkin had penned the thing. I thought that was interesting as well.

So, you're convinced the blu-ray is hot? I've honestly never seen either play on a tv, but I'd really like to see a side by side comparison.

Anonymous artie kuhn Says:

I don't think physical media is here to stay, do you?iTunes has changes how I buy music, I have a hard time seeing either bluray or hddvd lasting once someone makes the right deal with one of the content providers. Am I crazy?

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

we were going to hit up the party - we ended up not going to NC - but i'm feeling pretty awful, so i am staying in tonight.

AK - we have had this discussion before... and at least in the forseeable future, i don't think all-digital content distribution will overtake traditional physical media, simply because i don't have enough storage space for all the video i want. sure, maybe i will rent a movie or two from a content provider, but a 50GB blu-ray disc? i can store four of those on my home PC with no other data. sure, storage is getting cheaper, but it's not that cheap yet. put it another way - i can't convert my entire DVD collection to a library on my PC yet, because i don't have enough space; i certainly won't be able to once i start getting blu-ray discs.

you wonder if the on-demand services will take over there, though - so that all that home storage won't be necessary. instead i just subscribe a-la Rhapsody/Napster and listen to/watch what i want when i want; however that doesn't work unless i have network connectivity everywhere (not just in my home - it needs to travel with me, much like my collection on my ipod), so that solution requires pervasive (i.e. municipal) wifi.

in ten years? it'll probably be there, assuming i can get 10TB of storage at home for under $100. and assuming i can stream 1080p-quality films to my house over my FTTP connection. either way, in 2008, i will not have enough storage space or network bandwidth to completely remove the physical layer.

and i, for one, won't stop buying physical media until the digital alternative becomes totally DRM-free. because only a few of the major labels have committed to DRM-free distribution; so as a result i have to resort to ripping music from CD's to get them into a format i can use anywhere. and that's not even an option with DVD's - ripping those and converting to a format i can use anywhere is still currently illegal.

sometimes i think that because i spend my time reading slashdot and wired, i am way out of touch with the average consumer. then i go out to boonville, indiana, where all they have is dialup, where DVD's have just now become the standard, and it takes a few hours to (unsuccessfully) explain the process of getting music onto an ipod. i realize that while marketing may make it sound like iphones are required for a human to function day-to-day, in reality, an enormous majority of our country (mostly in the flyover states) is still catching up to 2007 tech.

i love your train of thought, though, and i too long for a day when everything will be 100% on a hard disk - that's one reason i picked up the PS3 in the first place :)

Blogger ryanham Says:

FTTP? Still think that'll be the way to do it in 10 years?

I don't. I don't think our future limitation is the transfer speed of the physical line. I think we'll have to enhance the overall data link layer before we'll be able to stream 1080p. Our current frame sizes are far too small. We'd almost need to see a data frame hold enough information for 2 frames of video (which at 1080p means 30 full data frames every second) before I think we could see that kind of quality streamed.

FTTP? Nah, how about VidTP? Count it, I'm marketing that. Video Transfer Protocol. Now, I just need to figure out the data frame size in order to carry 2 full frames of 1080p video...maybe more just in case a frame is lost. Who's with me?

Anonymous artie kuhn Says:

First, I think the idea of "collecting" content is on its way out. Look at what the kids are doing. No one under the age of 20 seems to be buying CDs. Content and ownership of content is fluid to them. Honestly, it's a waste. Why should I own a DVD after I've watched the movie? Why own a game after I've beaten it? The only reason we've kept these things lying around in our homes is that physical media forces us to. It makes MUCH more sense to have a subscription model for this stuff. Think netflix without the physical media.

As for technically how to pull it off, who knows? I do think it doesn't need to be streaming. I buy stuff through my TiVo from amazon and it takes a while, but who cares? Its easier than going down to blockbuster.

I also don't think drm is that big of a deal for the vast majority of users. I wish it didn't exist too, but if it was really a problem, would iTunes really be so successful? As for portablity, you don't need he content. No portable devices I can imagine would really make Ise of he content. My iPhone is less than DVD quality and it works great.

I think the real solution will be that you have two options. One will be a subscription/all you can eat model. You'll probably be restricted by device (you buy on iTunes,it'll only work on an apple device for instance). The other option will be to license the rights to a movie or whatever. It'll be pricier,but you can easily get the hd version, the standard def version, etc. This seems like what apple is moving towards based on the rumors I've heard. You'll be able to subscribe/rent content and you'll be able to own (I've heard rumors that fox will be offering DVDs that you can drop into iTunes and instantly download the iPod friendly version).

As for technically how it'll work, it'll get figured out once there's money to be made.

Blogger Bragg Says:

I don't really know what all that fancy crap means, what with your talk of tp and putting it on someone's house, but I do know I'm not giving up my physical media.

And here's why-I am not really excited about paying $3-5 every time I want to watch a movie (the reason I don't have a Blockbuster Card). Transfer issues do seem as though it's just a matter of time for the infrastructure to exist. Otherwise I still have way too many times where I pop into a roommates' room and borrow a DVD. If they have a subscription to a "napster" and I can't access that, then I'm SOL.

I consider it much like the big rush to HD by the year 2006. Cost and availability has prevented that from happening.

As for iTunes working, I don't think it's a matter of DRM not being an issue, but rather the ability to pick and choose which songs you want instead of purchasing a whole album for the 3-4 good songs worth listening too repeatedly. The iPod revolutionized the way we listen to music, but it's useless without some sort of physical space to store the files. Well, that and there are still CDs on shelves so the market hasn't totally collapsed...

I know I don't have a lot of music, but kids like JW have way more than what the largest iPod will store. I know, technology will advance.

I'm not in the "industry" like you kids are, but there are still far too many people on the outside who aren't capable of following suit with the changes. And I will say that in 10 years you will be correct. But I can also say that in 10 years we'll still be having the same conversation.

Blogger ryanham Says:

I think the "restricted by device" dogma is going by the wayside as more people realize how stupid DRM actually can become.

There are already music purchasing locations (amazon for one) that offer music from major labels without all that device restriction or DRM'd sickness.

It's like the original Divx model. Anyone remember that? DVD's you can rent but you don't have to ever take back because you only have a 3 day timer on them before they're no good? See how well that worked out? Netflix works because people like to take their time watching/absorbing the content they want to watch. They also like to have options.

There are direct to the consumer "rental" services out there now, like vudu, but I don't see the less tech savvy crowd jumping on that bandwagon.

Take it from Bragg, who may be less tech savvy than we are, but is more tech savvy than most americans: "I don't really know what all that fancy crap means, what with your talk of tp and putting it on someone's house, but I do know I'm not giving up my physical media."

It all really boils down to this: If I buy a movie, I want to do with it whatever I want. Period.

Blogger Artie Says:

But physical media is MORE restricted by device. A DVD only plays in a DVD player (non technical folks aren't going to use Handbreak or whatever you poor PC people have to deal with to get it off the disc onto their iPod). No, don't look at what we're doing or what Bragg's doing. Look at what my little cousins are doing. The kids don't care about physical media. A good subscription service is where it's at. Mark my words, if someone could work out a deal with the content providers that could do the following, Best Buy would be out of business:
1) Cheap subscription.
2) All you can eat. Could apply some sort of fake scarcity to it w/ diff levels (only have three movies on deck to watch at a time, etc.).
3) Easy to manage queue of stuff that automatically downloads the next one when you're done watching what you had.
4) Easily portable. Move files between TiVo, iPod etc easily. Maybe limit to just a handful so you can charge a small amount to have rights to move wherever you want. I think DRM is okay if it doesn't get in the way 90% of the time and that it's possible to remove it for cheap for that 10% of the time you want to do something special with it.
5) Strong ties to an existing social networking site (I think this would be bigger than we all would expect). Easy way to see what your buddies are watching and add to your queue when they mention it at a party.
6) Manage queue remotely. Be able to use a cell phone, etc. to manage queue so you can quickly add the movie that you told the cute girl you had already seen.
7) Easily, and cheaply, be able to buy permanent rights to own the movie/song/whatever if you really dig it and what to be able to move to any device you want.

Normal users don't need to be able to watch one of 3 million movies any time they want, they just need to be able to add them to a shortish list of things they want to see. Google the Paradox of Choice. Totally true. I see it w/ my job and my life all the time.

A model like this could change everything. Small time producers could have access to the general audience. Big time producers wouldn't need warehouses or have to deal with manufacturing (which I'd imagine is a real pain).

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

wait, did you say physical media is MORE restrictive? i don't know, man, last i checked, there were about a thousand more devices from a thousand more manufacturers that played my physical media than my purchased (i.e. DRM'd) file-based media. and what's even better - all my physical media works on all of them! there's ONE format - DVD (or redbook in the case of CD audio). your device HAS to play that format to be labeled a CD player or DVD player. M4P/M4V from the iTunes store only plays on an iPod or Apple TV. now if we're talking formats like MP3/OGG or Divx/Xvid,

(btw if you like Handbrake, try DVD Decrypter or DVD Shrink on Windows. on the exact same hardware, my macbook, they get the job done in a third of the time, and they don't die mid-rip like Handbrake)

but i love the way you're thinking about a subscription model... sadly one already exists that matches (closely) to what you describe: Rhapsody (or Napster, or Yahoo Music, or Zune, etc). they hit nearly every requirement you have (minus #7) - but compared to iTunes, their income is pitiful! no one is using them. maybe it's a marketing thing?

i continue to hope for a video service like this, though, but i fear that #4 and #7 will axe the whole thing. Apple has little financial incentive to allow content sold from their store to be used on devices they don't make; and content owners have little financial incentive to allow you to 'own' the media you are buying - that's why they are fighting to make ripping CD's to another format illegal.

ironically (did someone lose a limb?) the one thing that you can count on from the media conglomerates - greed - is what is driving them to sell in non-DRM'd formats. they're tired of seeing Apple make all the money!

anyway - all our pining for the perfect subscription service is probably just wasted effort. for that to happen, the content owners, distributors, and device manufacturers would all have to get a big enough piece of the pie that the end-cost to the consumer would be enormous, we'd have to pay $50 a month for it. it's like the old saying - your media service can be:

- cheap
- have a quality selection
- ownable
- portable

now pick three. that's the best you can ask for.

Blogger Bragg Says:

except that it's all in the works with LG and Netflix making a "box" to end physical media.

too bad I won't buy one.

further proof you won't end physical media is found at any store. DVD's are still sold by the gross to even your cousins artie. VHS tapes are still available in big box stores. Cassette tapes can be found. And let's not forget the resurgence of vinyl.

again, i'm not disputing the part where it's available, and going to be mainstream. however, i think this conversation will be happening for the next 15-20 years.

Blogger Artie Says:

JW, the reason the subscriptions that are out there yet aren't popular is because people seem to divorce service from hardware. The service might be great, but it needs to have a great piece of hardware and I'm certainly not going to buy a Zune instead of an iPod and I think that's true for MOST people.

Bragg, your post proves you wrong. Just because you can buy something at a store doesn't mean people are using it. So, just because you can buy a DVD doesn't mean that most people are going to keep on buying DVDs. You bring up VHS tapes, this proves my point actually! No one uses VHS tapes. They were cheaper, everyone had the hardware, more portable (it's still a pain for most people to copy a DVD, but it's always been cake to copy a VHS) and folks still had a large collection. And they're dead. Killed by DVDs within only a few years because DVDs had more stuff and looked nicer. I think all-digital will look just as nice, and have even more stuff (if done right). How cool would it be to watch a movie, and then have up to the minute updates to the director's commentary, links to a popular site that's a community of people discussing it, previews to the director's latest film.

No, if someone like Apple gets in the game and makes a killer device, makes the media cheap and ties it to updated/community stuff, DVDs, BluRay, everyone will be dead in five years.

Blogger Bragg Says:

Sure it will be cool to have all the nifty, up to date stuff. But do you think it's going to be free? No. There's a reason the movie studio waits a year before re-releasing the same video 4 times.

If I'm going to be handcuffed with extra fees to download those extra features, even on a subscription-based model like you are advocating, then why wouldn't I just stick with my subscription to Netflix and keep the movie (physical media) as long as I want? Best part of that is still the portability. I can take it to a friend's house and watch it there. I'm not sure about you, but when was the last time you had to take your dvd player anywhere? A new "download box" might very well be the thing of the future, but it's not something you can just hook up to any ol' television set.

Don't misread my statement Artie. I agree with you. But, I think there are still way too many people who won't be able to "keep up with the Jones" on that technology front. I still use VHS, Analog Television, and Cassette tape as my example. There's a reason they are still around...Hell, even vinyl is making a comeback. It's just this conversation, once again, will be taking place for years to come.

I admire your optimism though...

Blogger Artie Says:

A well built device could be even more portable than a disk. My phone can hold 8gb of data. That's not enough for HD, but its more than enough for 10 DVDs or so (the DVD encryption codex are pretty old school, so if using something newer, you could fit a handful of movies on one DVD). My phone is way more portable than just a handful of disks. If I bought the right cable, it could plug into any component jack on any display. Your music doesn't need a tape player or a cd player, you have an iPod. Why is video content any different? All that's missing is a good subscription model and a killer device. Steve, you have Nerflix. If you could get a device for a few hundred bucks (could be cheaper if it didn't have a screen on it), why wouldn't you want a subscription service where you get your next movie automatically when your done with the one you have?

I don't think its just keeping up with the Joneses. I think its technology finding better ways to do the things we already do. Of course there will always be stuff that lasts even after its been replaced (the postal service still exists even though email has made it obsolete).

I think we'll look at DVDs the same way look at CDs five years from now. They'll be quaint. In ten, it'll be like letters, only old people will still buy them.


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