Sunday, 28 February 2010
Friday, 26 February 2010
First, the flipper.
If you haven't heard, some cinemas in Europe have chosen to boycott Tim Burton's latest creation, an adaptation of "Alice In Wonderland". The reason? Because Disney Studios were planning on releasing the movie on DVD 12 weeks after the release of the movie, instead of the standard 17 weeks. Odeon, one of the largest movie chains in the UK, gave the excuse that they've invested into the latest 3D technology, and now Disney is ruining their game by pushing ahead with an earlier DVD release. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I know, you don't get 3D on a DVD, and even if you do get it on a Blu-Ray, the typical consumer still can't enjoy it in the full 3D experience. So what has Odeon got to worry about? Why are they so afraid of people not going to the cinema just because they know the DVD version will be out earlier?
Just to clarify, most movies stop screening in a cinema by the 12th week. Then consumers hear nothing about the movie until its DVD release. From the studio's perspective, I understand why they want to try and get the movie onto DVD earlier - so they can take advantage of the momentum etc. But what about the cinemas? Why did they choose to go so far as to boycott a hotly-tipped movie, jsut because it'll come out on DVD earlier? I mean, do what you like, but it'll be a lose-lose situation. If the cinemas don't screen the movie, they lose out on revenue. People don't get to enjoy the movie in 3D. The creators don't get to share their hard work with anyone except themselves. Then the studio don't earn anything from the box offices. But they can still sell the DVDs, and consumers get a compromise - they get the DVD and not the 3D, but with the added benefit of a lower price.
Bottom line: European cinema executives are arrogant control-freaks who don't know how to do business.
Now let's move on before I erupt into a mega-rant.
I was reading an article on how the BBC heads might be scaling back the corporation. Amongst the things mentioned (e.g.: cutting Radio 6 Music, axeing 25% of the web team), one that caught my eyes was their plan to somehow halve the iPlayer site.
Now, the article didn't mention how this was goign to be executed, but as a tech-head, I thought I could offer some suggestions to the Beeb on ways it could streamline and improve the iPlayer.
Firstly, HTML 5. They must start looking into the future. Google has started experimenting with HTML 5, so much so that they actually abandoned their efforts in Google Gears (their application to let users use the other Google Apps, such as Google Docs, offline) as their sign of confidence in HTML 5 as the web standard of the future. I can go on about the benefits of HTML 5, but honestly, I think the iPlayer must get off Flash. It cripples people's computers, especially with the HD programmes, and it's not open.
Secondly, the encoding. The BBC already has H.264 streams for the iPhone and many other mobile devices. If it could somehow reduce the number of files they host, such that there's one version that's suitable for various platforms, I think they could save on not just the amount of data required to run iPlayer, but also the encoding time to get from tape to web. Think about it -
- one encoding for the Mobile (iPhone/iPod/Blackberry/Android/PSP/Archos) platform,
- one for the desktop/SD platform (PC/Mac/PS3/Wii),
- and one for the HD-ready (PC/Mac/PS3).
- iPhone OS,
- Windows DRM for WinMo/Archos,
- Wii iPlayer,
- Flash webpage,
- Adobe Air,
- HD Flash webpage,
- HD Adobe Air,
- etc. ...
Thirdly, host elsewhere. Get deals with YouTube, Vimeo and Facebook to host your content. Offload some of the burden on third-party video content companies. Channel 4 has already done so by putting up their shows on YouTube. The BBC should try doing the same if it wants to reduce its own bandwidth costs.
Well, these are just a couple of ideas that twirled in my head. Of course, there will be the issue of control - DRM, piracy, and the BBC's strange 7-days-before-we-remove-this-content policy. But if Apple could put DRM on digital music, surely the BBC can make sure only license fee-payers get access to those YouTube streams...
Well, that's just my penny's worth...
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
I have 2 weeks off (26 March - 11 April), but I know certain things are confirmed:
-Moving stuff on 1 April
-Packing stuff prior to 1 April
-Easter Service around Easter
And that's about it.
I'm thinking of visiting a number of places - Manchester, Portsmouth, London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, or maybe even outside the UK (Amsterdam, Switzerland, US?) But the thing is that I have no idea what to do in these places (other than London and Portsmouth, since I've been to these places before).
So, if you can help with suggestions, do comment/tag. If not, pretend I'm thinking out loud here.
So many things I want to do, yet so little time...
Monday, 22 February 2010
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Saturday, 13 February 2010
15 Feb: Owl City - Ocean Eyes.
For everyone outside the UK, stop laughing at us (as in the people in the UK). We still don't have Owl City's album. But that's about to change next Monday, when Adam Young & Co.'s music finally gets released on a full album, both physical and digital. For those of you who are completely baffled by the term "Owl City", it's the name of a project/band that's mainly centred around this insomniac from Minnesota who goes by the name of Adam Young. He taps away at his laptop and musical instruments in the basement while awake, mixing up some awesome tunes, uploaded to Myspace, got really popular, and is now on charts and sell-out concerts. Typical MySpace Cinderella Story.
22 Feb: Marina & the Diamonds - Family Jewels.
Half Greek, half Welsh, and slightly obsessed with American/Hollywood Pop Culture. Seems like female solo artistes are developing the habit of adopting a stage name that fits the format "[First name] and the [noun]" (Florence and the machine, Marina and the diamonds, what's next? Diana and the Roses, which sounds a bit like "Diana Ross"?) Naming aside, Marina has the potential to become one of the big names in 2010, as predicted by pundits who were nominating people for the BBC Sound of 2010 title (She was a runner-up). Judging from the singles that she has released so far, she sounds cheeky, perky and fun. A nice change from the emo stuff we've been having from Flo+TM, I guess.
1 Mar: Ellie Goulding - Lights
Remember me talking about the BBC Sound of 2010 award just 2 paragraphs ago? Well, this is the winner. Ellie Goulding, an artiste whom you probably never heard of before, but if things go well for her, she might just be the next Little Boots! Now, describing her music is not easy, since there's only 3 tracks that I can find at the moment. I would compare her to Regina Spektor and Florence & the Machine - she has airy vocals (though it's not too bad), and her range does go quite high.
8 Mar: Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
I must confess, I'm not really a big fan of Gorillaz's music (with the exception of Dare and Feel Good Inc.). The only thing I like about them is their music videos and their use of those cartoon characters. But hey, it's the Gorillaz, and they're back after 3-5 years of 'silence' with a new album. Worth checking out, I guess. Especially if you're a Gorillaz fan.
22 Mar: Jónsi - Go
Jónsi, for those of you who aren't aware, is the lead in Sigur Rós, the Icelandic band responsible for one of the most beautiful piece of music in the last decade, Hoppípolla. Yes, the falsetto guy. He's been working on some solo stuff, and it'll all be revealed on 22 Mar. For now, you can look around YouTube and listen to (or if you're lucky/late enough, view the MV) to one of the tracks from his album, "Go Do". Really bizarre, yet in a Lady Gaga way, fascinating music video.
By the way, I think he's singing in English. I think.
Right, that's what I'll be looking forward to over the next few weeks!
By the way, 16 March is the Brits Award. Look out for that, too!
Friday, 12 February 2010
I look at Google today, coming up with all these new 'social networks' like Wave, Buzz, etc. But somehow, it doesn't excite me as much as, oh, I don't know, Facebook and Twitter.
Maybe I'm being overly critical and pessimistic, but seriously, does anyone outside 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway use these things? If you do, I'd be really interested to hear how you use them, and how often.
My problem is that whatever Google comes up with, none of my friends really use them. Sure, it may be superior over Twitter in a million ways, and it's much cleaner than Facebook, but I just don't see myself using it to socialise, because it's a ghost-town there! At least I have a few twitteratis on Twitter, and 401+ friends on Facebook. But on Google Wave? Less than 5. And I doubt Buzz will do any better.
And as I tweeted before -Buzz seems to have some privacy issue. I was on the bus, on my way home, and out of curiosity, I logged on to Buzz on my iPhone. What was the first thing I saw? A map of recent 'buzzes' from a guy who didn't like a light show down at the Pier near where I was, from 15 hours ago. That's a bit too much open-ness, if you ask me. And I know Twitter has the same feature, but at least the UI is quite clean, so you know roughly where to look if you want to turn of Geotagging. On Google Buzz? I don't even know how I read my friends' Buzz Profile page!
Oh, on the topic of Google, I'd love to see them build a 1Gbps Fiber network.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Well, to be honest, I don't know what a good format of an app review post should be. (Hey, this blog is experimental, after all.) So I'm going to play around with the format. AppJudgement has their "Download/Don't Download" judgement, and I, well, have a phletora of options to choose from. But as a first post (and because I'm on the school PC, which means I can't hook up my iPhone to get screenshots), I'll just do a quick bout of app names, what they do, a couple of thoughts/opinions, and a score, plus a "usage frequency" rating - how often I actually use the app in my day-to-day life.
So, here goes!
What it does:
Generates Playlists based on 5 different 'mood' ratings - think of it as Genius playlist generator with mood.
You need more than 25 non-obscure songs to use this app fully. In my experience, the app is well-thought-out. Once you generate a playlist, you can save it, or even play the playlist when you leave the app (it plays in the iPod app), or if you find another song from which you want to generate a playlist, you can select an icon next to the song, and it'll make a playlist with the same mood as that song. Otherwise, play around with the scales and the app will create a playlist.
The scales' significance can be a bit vague at times, but otherwise, it works as well, if not better, than Genius, as long as you don't listen to really obscure stuff.
Pricing: Free (as at time of posting)
App Score: 4/5
Usage frequency: rarely - I don't make playlists that often, unfortunately. I just set it and forget it.
App: Riddim Ribbon
What it does:
It's a new game from Tapulous, the creators of the ubiquitous Tap Tap Revenge that every iPhone or iPod touch has probably had on its home screen at least once in one iteration or another. This game is still music-based, except that it tries to emulate DJ Hero rather than Rock Band. You tilt the phone from side to side as you try to keep a ball on the track (ha! no pun intended). Stray off or hit the obstacles and you lose energy, which means you can't jump over to the next stage in the music.
The 'Fail' system in this game can be a bit harsh and demoralising for new gamers (and let's admit it - that's a lot of us, considering how new this genre is). If you hit one of the obstacles jsut before the checkpoint, you'll lose energy and fail automatically - this is compared to its cousins, Guitar Hero, where if you miss a couple of times, regardless of section, you can still try to fight your way back to the green while the crowd jeers at you.
Also, maybe it's just me not gaming enough on my iPhone, but there can be a steep learning curve when trying to play this game. As a guide, think of the two dotted lines in the track as fulcrums. If you keep your phone in the normal position, you'll be in the exact middle of those two dotted lines. Tilt slightly to one side, and you'll get on the dotted line. Tilt further, and you'll stray out and onto the outer lane. A bit like changing lanes on a highway, except you have to keep the phone tilted to stay in a lane.
Oh, one more complaint - This game has been in development for some time now, why are there so few music tracks to play with? Only 3 BEP tracks and a few downloadable Tiesto tracks? Where's the Gaga? Owl City? Come on! Bring them over from TTR!
Pricing: £1.79 in the UK as at posting. Downloadables approximately £0.59.
App Score: 4/5. If they had more tracks to play with, I would give 5/5.
Usage Frequency: Often - I'm hooked on this game!
App: Sleep Cycle
What it does: In 3 words: Glorified Alarm Clock. More specifically: It uses the accelerometer in the iPhone (apparently, not iPod touch compatible) to detect movements while you're asleep. Based on these movements, it interprets whether you're in your deep REM sleep, awake, or dreaming. When it senses that you're in your 'light sleep', it sounds the alarm.
This app will not suit everyone. You'll need to be able to put your iPhone on your bed, next to your head, and it should be charged unless you want a flat battery the next day. (oh, and if you have a Tempur bed, this app won't work.) And let's not even get into the radiation talk. Also, maybe it's just me being pedantic, but this morning, the app woke me up at 7.26 - that's 19 minutes before the time I intended to wake up! I wanted a nice snooze after I saw the time, but no, the app asks for me to get off my lazy bum, even though I only had 5 hours sleep the night before.
Also, a bit TMI, much? Why do I need to see that I dream at 2-3am?
But I have to say, for someone who's a bit OCD like myself, this app is fascinating in the "I want to know everything even if it's dumb or inaccurate" sense. And from what I see, it appears to work on me.
Pricing: £0.59 (look out for the LexWare Labs AB one. That's the one I tested, so that's the only one I can tell you about.)
App Score: 4/5 - The radiation is a concern for me.
Usage Frequency: Nightly. I'm really interested in how this app works and analyzes my physiological patterns when I'm sleeping/about to sleep/getting up. Even though I'm exposing myself to even more radiation, on top of what my MacBook Pro emits.