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How to destroy the world’s best fan base

November 30, 2005

Back in the day, the Grateful Dead was the top grossing act in entertainment, year in and year out. They toured 300+ days a year, playing to packed houses all over the world.

Part of their success? They didn’t treat their fans like the enemy.

You want to tape a concert? No problem. In fact, we’ll just open up as many seats as we can for tapers who want to plug into our soundboard, and tape our mix directly. We’ve spent all of this money on great audio equipment, no reason to drag your own mikes along…

You want to share and trade tapes? That’s cool — enjoy!

Going by today’s record label “logic” they should have gone broke over this. Instead, they made money hand over fist, like no other act ever has.

Time moves on.
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Ala carte programming — who pays for what?

November 30, 2005

The FCC yesterday came out endorsing “Ala carte” programming from cable and satellite providers — as a way to give parents more control over the type of programming coming into their house.

The full statement of the FCC Chairman before the Senate yesterday is here (Acrobat document), but one section that caught my eye was this:
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IE Security hole worse than feared

November 29, 2005

Just to put a cherry on top of the whole “Firefox 1.5 has been released” thing, if you’re still using Internet Explorer, you should go read this:

IE Flaw Is Worse Than Expected.

There’s a lot of geek-talk on that page, but the upshot of it is, if you’re a Windows user using Internet Explorer, any website you visit could be used by a malicious user to execute anything on your computer. Like reformat your drive. Or mail your Quicken account data to someone.

There is no fix for this yet.

Scary Stuff.

Love Firefox, Hate Thunderbird

November 29, 2005

I have a confession to make…. As much as I love Firefox, I just can’t handle its sister application, the Thunderbird e-mail client.

I’d really like to get Entourage out of my life. It has a ton of baggage I don’t need, the whole calendering and scheduling system, etc. Worse, the “junk mail” feature just wasn’t cutting it for me.

I’d given Thunderbird a try awhile back, and it just wasn’t ready for prime time. Some time has passed though, and some improvements have been made, and I figured it might be time for another try.

Unfortunately, it’s still not there. I’ve given it a good, honest week, and I’m sick of the thing.
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Firefox 1.5 Released

November 29, 2005

Firefox 1.5 is now officially released. As I mentioned the other day, this version is a substantial improvement on the 1.0x versions — which were in turn quite an improvement over most everything else.

If you’re currently using Firefox, you need to hop over and download the new version.

If you’re not currently using Firefox, then you’re in for even more of a treat.

If you’re still using Internet Explorer, you may wish to take a few minutes to have your head examined and rescan your machine for viruses and spyware first…

Firefox 1.5 – Rediscover the web

WordPress (commentary) another step backwards

November 28, 2005

Wow, this is fun… Over on “Geek News Central” they credit this little jewel from Dave (“not invented here”) Winer as justification for why all WordPress sites look the same:

“I noticed that WordPress doesn’t even give the user a way to edit their site template. This is a major step backward. Both Manila and Blogger gave this power to users, in 1999! Hello. Earth to developers. You’re not supposed to take features out.”

Ummm…

Did either of you ever look under the “Presentation | Theme Editor” tab?

This has been there for awhile — despite the fact that editing templates in on-page editors is about as painful as it gets, and most of us use real code editors to edit our templates.

Unless, of course, they’re both talking about wordpress.com, which (just out of beta) doesn’t allow template editing yet — in which case they’re just confused, instead of totally mistaken.

WordPress.com aside, I’m getting to the point where I rather like the WordPress templating system. I’d certainly rather use it than either Movable Type or (shudder) Expression Engine’s templating system.

Then again, I’d also rather be dragged through carpet tacks and dipped in rubbing alcohol than use either of those, most days.

DigitalLife HDTV Special

November 28, 2005

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about HDTV, but were afraid to ask — over on Digital Life this week, Tech TV alums Robert Heron and Patrick Norton spend about an hour doing what Tech TV always did best — explaining technology in an excellent and accessable manner.

This week they’re covering pretty much all of the ins and outs of HDTV — here’s their rundown:

  • Wondering what HDTV is? Robert Heron says it’s two things: an HDTV screen and HDTV content.
  • Big glass tubes, front projectors, rear projectors, plasmas, LCD, OLED… they all have their strong points.
  • Plasma vs. LCD: why there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect’ thin HDTV.
  • Going HDTV shopping this holiday? Loyd Case tells Patrick how to find the perfect HDTV.
  • Your HDTV checklist: Loyd’s got a list you should check twice before dropping the big bucks on your.
  • Get the hook-up on HDTV connectors, and what you’ll need to get your PC, DVD, cable or sat TV hooked up!
  • Wondering where to find the best HDTV content? Jim Louderback walks us thru his favorite sources, from TiVo to over the air
  • Trust us, that old UHF antenna is far from dead!

If you’re considering buying HD, you need to go download this and watch it today.

(via HDBeat)

TV Stations next to be disintermediated?

November 28, 2005

On The Long Tail, Chris Anderson has some numbers on this year’s poor stock performance on the part of the 12 public TV station owning companies.

Terry Heaton says “Broadcasting is an industry in deep trouble, and it will take innovation and integrity to save it from a real disaster.” He then shows the stock charts over the past year for the 12 publicly listed companies that own TV stations. While the number of lines going south is striking, it’s a bit hard to see them in context that way. So I’ve re-run the numbers and expressed them below in percentage terms.

The upshot is that in 12 months when the Dow has risen 4%, these companies have fallen 16.8% — not a good sign.

But not terribly surprising, either.
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CableCARD uncertainty setting in?

November 28, 2005

Apparently a few other people are now wondering whether CableCARD support is going to really be available outside of designated pre-built MCE systems

Ed Bott writes in CableCARD and Media Center PCs: More questions than answers:

Does this mean that CableCARD-ready Media Center PCs will only be available from name-brand PC makers? If so, this is an unwelcome step backwards. The best news of last year was Microsoft’s move to make OEM copies of its Media Center software available to enthusiasts rather than forcing them to buy pricey name-brand systems.

The ideal solution will allow users on any Windows PC (assuming it meets the Media Center specs) to upgrade to Windows Vista, add a compatible TV tuner and CableCARD decoder. Expect screams of anguish if people buying high-powered PCs in the next year discover that there’s no CableCARD ugprade path.

No kidding.

There’s a bit of vague handwaving in the comments by some of the usual suspects, but the real question is becoming the same question we’re used to seeing where DRM is concerned, namely “How bad did the users get sold out to the content holders in order to make this happen?”

There’s plenty of evidence of other manufacturers drasticly affecting the user experience in order to make the CableCARD powers that be happy.

What makes us think Microsoft will be any different?

NBC makes threats over Tivo’s portable plans

November 28, 2005

Apparently NBC can no longer afford lawyers that understand Fair Use or the Betamax decision, and have decided that Tivo’s plans to let you move recordings to your Video iPod or PSP are worth making vague legal threats over, according to Variety.

“TiVo appears to be acting unilaterally, disregarding established rights of content owners to participate in decisions regarding the distribution and exploitation of their content,” an NBC Universal spokesman said. “This unilateral action creates the risk of legal conflict instead of contributing to the constructive exploitation of digital technology that can rapidly provide new and exciting experiences for the consumer.”

Maybe NBC is just making sure Variety still remembers they exist? If I was the number four network (among what used to be the Big Three), I’d be thrilled that people even cared enough to bother.

They maybe would do better to be careful to not give viewers any more reasons to tune away from them than they already have.

(via PVRblog)

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