Archive for August 2007

 
 

NBC yanks itself from iTunes; shoots self in foot

Without a doubt, the craziest story to hit the web today was the announcement of NBC pullings its TV shows from the iTunes Store.

This comes hot on the heels of NBC’s announcement that it’s starting its own on-line video offering site, finally naming it “Hulu” after months of time spent on the soon-to-be boondoggle. Many have translated “Hulu” from other languages, none of which are very flattering to NBC. (“Hair,” “butt,” “cease,” “desist”)

It almost makes sense, though, to pull out from a future competitor when you’re starting your own system.

But, Apple slapped NBC silly today and announced they were ending the relationship sooner than NBC expected and won’t be offering any new shows from NBC. They also announced, more importantly, why NBC pulled out. NBC wanted to charge you $5 for a 22 minute sit-com, or 44 minute drama. (It would be more expensive to buy a seasno’s worth of HEROES on iTunes that way, than to buy the HD-DVD boxed set of the season.) Apple laughed. NBC walked.

NBC is about to learn that what saved THE OFFICE was, in large part, its ease of access through iTunes and the relatively low price. (Oh, and that it’s a darn good show.) They’re about to learn it the hard way. And then they’ll learn it again when the creative community in Hollywood goes on strike because they’re not getting much if any of the $5 NBC isn’t getting the $2 iTunes was getting, or the nothing NBC will be charging.

NBC just guaranteed a massive increase in piracy of its TV shows on-line, and a hit to its incoming revenue. Brilliant move, Peacock.

In the long run, though, I think network-video-over-the-net is not going to truly take off until Hollywood studios and their lawyers get a handle on the copyright situation and the way they spread the money around. Until they can quell the multiple unions that want a cut of this potentially lucrative pie, they’re never going to get anywhere. And until they can wrap their head around the idea that net-based distribution is really a good idea, they’re going to keep making baby steps forward and giant leaps back.

Don’t get me wrong — I love competition. Maybe some serious iTunes competition would lead to HDTV content getting added in, for one small example. But the margins are so thin with the iTunes store, as it is, that I’m pretty grateful for what we have, though resentful that Hollywood gets so much of it. That’s not me being an Apple fanboy. That’s me being a tech geek.

But if NBC thinks they can open a new downloadable content store with $5 videos that last all of 22 minutes, then this is NO competition whatsoever to iTunes. It’s just a clueless Hollywood entity dumping gasoline on itself and lighting an entire book of matches in the name of controlling one’s own fate.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Quick Link Dump

Random Thoughts

Random thoughts and observations from the last 48 hours:

  • There’s a competitor to Delicious Library releasing on Saturday that has potential. Librarian Pro looks to catalog software as well as books, movies, CDs, etc. It has smart folders. And it will import your Delicious Library data, to boot.

  • On Wednesday night, I sat down in front of the computer and visited Amazon to check on the shipping status of Greg Rucka’s new Atticus Kodiak novel, PATRIOT ACTS. Imagine my thrill when I read “Delivered – Back Door.” Guess I should have checked there first.

  • Most embarrassing thing to happen to someone else this week: Woman got pulled over by a local police officer right at the front gate at work. And everyone going into work that day got to see her getting her ticket, presumably for speeding. (Speeding is an easy thing to do in the corporate park area where I spend my days.)

  • Speaking of annoying drivers: Yes, the shortest distance between two points IS a straight line. But when you’re turning around a corner, it is generally recommended that you stay to the right side of the double yellow line. It may be quicker to cut straight across that corner, but it’s also illegal and slightly dangerous when attempting it around a blind bend. Idiot.

  • I wish MARIO STRIKERS CHARGED would have one non-gimmicky level — no blocks falling out of the sky onto the pitch, nor lightning bolts. And no rampant shells firing off all over the place. Just pure 5 on 5 soccer.

  • The first $199 standalone HD-DVD player is coming. Let the format war continue. . . I expect we’ll see Blu Ray retaliate in the next month or two.

More from Twitter

Some random comments from the last month on my Twitter account:

  • Ah, good to see new episodes of PROPERTY LADDER again. . .
  • Why do I keep running out of time to do things EVERY SINGLE NIGHT? Short term stuff gets done because it HAS TO BE DONE, but nothing else. 
  • Drove a grand total of 3.5 hours to visit someone in the city for 45 minutes. Gotta love NYC traffic.
  • Ever have one of those days that felt like you did nothing but drive somewhere? I had one today.
  • The most beautiful thing to happen to my digital photography ever: Lightroom’s Auto setting on “White Balance.”
  • Shopping for dress shirts when you’re a “TALL” size limits you to the web. UGH 
  • My blog’s backend is crawling. Doesn’t that sound dirty?
  • When Twitter is running faster than your blog, you know you’re in trouble.
  • Reading Two Fisted Tales Archives, Volume 1 (at last.) Beautiful art from Kurtzman, Toth, and Jack Davis so far.

Quicky Link Dump

As it turns out, I’m a teenager!

Teenagers hooked on TV and computer games only get four hours’ ‘junk sleep’ a night | News | This is London

Teenagers often get as little as four hours of sleep a night because they secretly play video games or watch TV until the early hours. One in three secondary school pupils survives on short bursts of “junk sleep” and turns up exhausted for lessons the next day, according to a survey.

Nah, that’s not me. I need six hours of sleep a night. . . But I can understand their need.

A Quick Question or Three

A quick question for the gaming geeks around here:

Kotaku or Joystiq?

If you’re more of a tech geek, then here’s one for you:

Engadget or Gizmodo?

And to the comic geeks:

Comic Book Resources or The Pulse?

(Yes, there is a correct answer to that last one.)

The new iPods are coming. . .

AppleInsider | Apple confirms “Special Event” on September 5th

Apple Inc. will use a special media event on September 5th to introduce a new array of digital media offerings, according to digital invitations issued to analysts and members of the media Tuesday afternoon. The invites, which arrived by e-mail, depict an enlarged CoverFlow interface with the caption, “The beat goes on.”

Mario Strikers Charged!

I picked up Mario Strikers Charged today. I think it’s the first Wii game I’ve bought for myself since launch day. (RAYMAN RAVING RABBIDS and SSX were both gifts.) And I noticed something:

I once played sports in school. I hated practice with a passion. I just wanted to play.

Now that I’m in my thirties, I can’t wait to enter the practice mode of MSC to learn how the heck I’m supposed to use all these controls. I think there’s one button between the Wiimote and the nunchuk that doesn’t get used. (That’s the “2” button on the Wiimote. “1” is pause, as I recall.)

Yes, I even read the instructions now. My mother, at last, will be so proud. How many of our mothers would look over our shoulders when we were playing a video game growing up and ask, “What’s that?” “I dunno, Mom. You just need to pick it up.” “Didn’t you read the manual?”

I just pray I have the coordination left to figure out how to use my left thumb to move the character, my left index finger to make a lob pass, and my right index finger (I think) to indicate a pass to begin with. ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

Man, I thought the original version of this game was exercise for my fingers. . . .

New DVD Releases for 28 August 2007

Here you have it, folks, the full DVD release list.

If you’d prefer some short cuts, here are my highlights gleaned from that same list:

  • Air Guitar Nation (2007)

Who can resist an entire documentary about the air guitar championships? I think I’ve blogged about those before here. Now you can witness them in higher definition than YouTube can offer.

  • Dr T & the Women: Special Edition (2000)
  • A Night At the Roxbury: Special Edition (1998)

It’s tough to figure out just which one is less deserving of a special edition DVD release, isn’t it?

  • Friday Night Lights: Season One (5-disc set)

I’ve never seen it, but I know it has its ardent fans.

  • Heroes: Seasons One (7-disc set)

I know I SHOULD watch this, but I don’t really have the time. Besides, I’m getting burnt out on the hype overdrive of this show already. They’re overhyping and overexpanding it too soon, and I fear it may crash earlier than many would expect. Or perhaps the short mini-arcs will give it enough flexibility to survive for a long time? I don’t know.

  • Rowan Atkinson Live!

I like Steve Martin, but Rowan Atkinson should have played Inspector Clouseau in THE PINK PANTHER. Mr. Bean is an achievement in visual comedy, but he can do wonderful verbal comedy, too, as best seen on BLACKADDER.

  • Samurai Jack: Season Four

I lost track of this show somewhere in its second season, but I’m very happy to see they’ve released the rest of the episodes on DVD. Next week: 30 ROCK’s first season comes to DVD.

On store shelves tomorrow

Patriot Acts

Greg Rucka’s new Atticus Kodiak book, at last, is here! This is a cause for much celebration!  Click on an Amazon link above and get pre-ordering! =)

Link Dump

Dunkin Donuts trying “healthier”

This can’t end well, can it? I haven’t eaten at a Burger King since they screwed up their french fries by switching oils. Can this go better? I hope so. I like those Munchkins. (Yes, I’m a horrible horrible diabetic.)

News: Dunkin’ Donuts going free of trans fat | dunkin, trans, fat, doughnut, chain – OCRegister.com

Dunkin’ Donuts, the food-on-the-go chain whose name celebrates a treat that’s symbolic of unhealthy eating, is trying to refresh its image by largely eliminating trans fat across its menu, Homer Simpson be damned. Dunkin’ planned to announce Monday that it has developed an alternative cooking oil and reformulated more than 50 menu items – doughnuts included. The Canton, Mass.-based chain says its menu will be “zero grams trans fat” by Oct. 15 across its 5,400 U.S. restaurants in 34 states.

DVD Snobbery

I much prefer buying a new DVD at Best Buy to buying it at 7-11 or the supermarket checkout stand, even when they’re cheaper.

It’s amazing to me how many places sell DVDs these days. It used to just be the hot family-friendly release in a display somewhere, but now they’re in the racks next to the magazines and on display in their own aisles at the grocery store. My local A&P has a display in the middle of the freezer aisle, for goodness’ sake! Even 7-11 has some decent relatively new movies at the front counter for $10 or less.

I still remember the early days of buying a DVD for $30 – $35 at Sam Goodys, and not being able to find anything cheaper than $25. And back then, there was only a six foot wide series of shelving to hold all the DVD releases, new and old.

Sorry, I’m just feeling old again today.

Another Idol Contestant of note

Amanda Avila has a MySpace page that includes her phone number for “label interest.”  The music that blasts out at you when you click on that link is annoying, though.  She wants to be J. Lo, it seems.  Sad.

Don’t know how old that site is.  Her MySpace blog links to www.amandaavilamusic.com as coming soon, last October.  It’s not live yet.