Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘hollywood’ Category

Recasting My TV

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I’ve recast my TV situation with a new Amazon Recast.

I cut the cord on regular cable about six years ago, and in that six years my TiVo Premiere box and an RCA indoor digital antenne did a fine job of providing me plenty of free content to watch.

Only it wasn’t free, because I was paying $15.99/month to TiVo every month for the past six years.

So now I’ve cut yet another cord with my purchase of an Amazon Recast.

What is that, you ask?  It’s like a TiVo, only I don’t pay $15.99 a month. Once I bought the Recast box, the OTA content is as it should be, free.

Recast is basically an OTA DVR, but it’s beauty is it’s also tied into the Amazon ecosystem, so I’m able to control the programming both with an Amazon Fire Stick and an Amazon Tap speaker.

It also didn’t require anything to hook up to my older (2014 model) Samsung Smart TV, as everything works through the Fire Stick and the Recast via wifi (as long as they’re both on the same network).

In terms of the interface, it’s not unlike a TiVo (or any other programming guide), and the synergy with the Amazon Echo ecosystem is pretty seamless so far (although I’m still figuring out all the different commands).

I’ll know more in another week or two.

Speaking of tying up ecosystems, Walmart has announced that it will let customers order groceries by voice through Google’s smart-home assistant, “an attempt to counter Amazon.com Inc.’s growing clout in e-commerce, reports Bloomberg.

Beginning this month, Walmart shoppers can add items directly to their online shopping carts by saying “Hey Google, talk to Walmart.” Information from prior purchases will help identify the correct brand and size — like whether you drink 1 percent or skim milk without having to specify, according to Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of digital operations. In a blog post Tuesday, he said customers can tweak their orders at home or from their smartphone while on the go.

As a loyal Walmart customer, I guess I’ll starve for now when it comes to ordering with my Amazon Tap.

But at least I can make my TV go!

Written by turbotodd

April 2, 2019 at 9:53 am

Posted in 2019, hollywood, television

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Bull Run

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The 2019 bull run continues.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 211.22 points higher at 25,928.68 today, and CNBC reports that the S&P 500 has notched its best start to a year since 1998. 

What happened to that inverted bond yield???

Perhaps that’s all just more goodness for the soon-to-be rampant unicorns, including Lyft, whose IPO float today send the stock trading up 8.7 percent to $78.29, with more than 70 million shares trading on its first day as a public company. 

That lifted Lyft’s market valuation to $22.2 billion.

Other unicorns likely to be unleashed into the wild soon? Uber, Slack, Pinterest, among others.

Just remember, Lyft is currently #2 in the ride-hailing pecking order and lost $900 million in 2018.

While we’re on the subject of moolah, let’s talk about TechCrunch’s story about consumer spending on apps.

Sarah Perez’s headline suggests that spending will reach $156 billion across iOS and Google Play by 2023. Yes, you read that right.

That research estimate came from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, and suggests that both stores will more than double their revenues over the next five years. That’s +16.8 percent CAGR, if you’re counting along.

Getting further down into the numbers, that’s an estimated $96 billion for Apple and $60 billion for Google, with Apple taking nearly 62 percent of all revenue generated by the two platforms.

To put that in perspective, the global film industry was worth an estimated $136 billion as of 2018.

Time to hone those developer skills, because the bull run appears to continue across the board.

Written by turbotodd

March 29, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Apple TV

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This is the kind of data I like to pass on just three days before Apple starts its own “Game of Thrones” programming play geared at the incumbent filmed content distributors.

What’s New In Publishing is reporting that smartphones are the big gainers in media consumption according to the Nielsen Q3 2018 Total Audience Report.

Specifically, the Nielsen data shows there’s been a “significant jump” in mobile time-spent among 18-34s, from 29 to 34 percent. Growth, WNIP notes, which came at the expense of television.

It goes on to note that this trend “continues from a year earlier, as live and time-shifted TV (traditional cable, set-top box viewing) was surpassed by mobile in Q3 2017.

For all US audiences, mobile went up from 21 to 24 percent, with media consumption otherwise remaining flat at about 10.5 hours per day.

To whit I ask, don’t any of you people working for a living?

In terms of platforms, YouTube was the big winner per its 37 percent of all mobile Internet traffic. Facebook and Snapchat were both less than 9 percent. Interestingly, Netflix only garnered 2.4 percent of mobile traffic.

So with that as a prelude, what is expected of Apple’s Monday announce?  

The Verge’s sneak peak suggests two things, Apple Video and an Apple News subscription service. 

Though Apple has already had a big screen content play with its Apple TV device, this new video service could bring the prestige of Apple’s brand into Netflix- or Hulu-like experience (although notably Netflix won’t be participating in the Apple Video offering, according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings).

However, rather than being just the distributor and aggregator, much like they were with the original iPod, this time they’re going to be in the business of backing horses (making content). 

What will determine its success?

Simple. Will the content be good enough, and the price aggressive enough, to convince Apple loyalists to subscribe to yet another streaming service.

If not, Apple Video could go the way of the Newton. 

Written by turbotodd

March 22, 2019 at 10:43 am

Posted in 2019, apple, hollywood

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Don’t Squeeze the Garmin

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Happy Friday.

If you were wondering whether there was any election cyber shenanigans going on, the Washington Post (“WAPO”) is reporting that Facebook has already purged over 800 U.S. accounts and pages for pushing political spam.

WAPO points out that in doing so, Facebook is potentially wading into politically treacherous waters, because some of those accounts had been in existence for years and had amassed millions of followers on both sides of the aisle.

At stake is the company’s future ability to operate with minimal government scrutiny: Prominent Republican and Democratic politicians now say Facebook should be regulated more heavily if it cannot control a growing list of abuses, including foreign meddling, the spread of misleading news — and if it abuses its power to censor, as conservatives have repeatedly alleged.

Still long on Facebook, much?

Meanwhile, back in the entertainment realm, here’s a creepy but interesting one for you.  Amy Winehouse is coming back to life and going out on tour as a hologram.

Proceeds from the tour will go toward the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which is dedicated to drug and alcohol abuse awareness and prevention among young people.

The tour is being produced by BASE Hologram, which uses holographic film technology to produce live entertainment tours and attractions worldwide, in partnership with the Winehouse family.

The tour will featured digitally remastered arrangements of the British singer’s hits — including “Rehab,” “Back to Black” and “Valerie” — with Winehouse’s hologram backed by a live band, singers and “theatrical stagecraft,” according to BASE.

I was a fan, and call me old fashioned, but I’m not sure I’m mentally prepared to show up to a stadium full of fans in order to watch a hologram sing. 

And if you’re in the market for a hardcore new smart watch to make sure you don’t miss the Amy hologram show, Garmin’s got your back with a new GPS watch called “Instinct,” which The Verge is reporting is built for endurance for outdoor activities like running or mountain biking.

Instinct comes with a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and multiple global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo). Support for multiple navigation systems allows the watch to track a user’s location even in more remote environments. It also uses Garmin’s TracBack feature, which sets “digital breadcrumbs” as you travel and can navigate you back to your starting point.

The Instinct also comes with heart rate sensors and monitors other health markers like daily activity, calories burned, sleep, and stress (measured through heart rate variability). There’s also a variety of built-in sports apps.

Garmin says the Instinct is built to military standards for thermal, shock, and water resistance (the latter rated to 100 meters). It comes with a fiber reinforced polymer case, silicon band, and a display the company says is “chemically strengthened” as well as scratch resistant.

The Garman Instinct will be priced at U.S. $299.99.

Written by turbotodd

October 12, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Posted in 2018, hollywood, music, wearables

Tagged with , , ,

Game of Hacks

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I’ve been following this HBO hack with great fascination.

One, because I’ve always had an interest in cybersecurity matters (although I’m not a hacker, nor do I play one on the Internets).

Two, because it’s HBO, whom I’m also a big fan of, and I still remember the reverberations of the Sony hack in late 2014, one which led to the downfall of its dear leader, Amy Pascal.

The Guardian has a new story out this morning on the HBO hack, alleging that the HBO hackers have "released personal phone numbers of Game of Thrones actors, emails and scripts in the latest dump of data stolen from the company," and, that they "are demanding a multimillion-dollar ransom to prevent the release of whole TV shows and further emails."

Where’s Daenerys Targaryen and those flying, fire-breathing dragons when you need them?

And is it just me, or do I find it completely serendipitous that this hack comes about around the time of probably one of the peak episodes of the entire GOT franchise…SPOILER ALERT…you know, the one where Daenerys finally unleashes the wrath of those damned dragons and Dothraki scythes on Jaime Lannister and his woefully unprepared army.

While GOT players will settle for bags of gold, the HBO hacker, now someone calling themselves "Mr. Smith." (You can’t make this $%#$ up!), has apparently told HBO chief executive Richard Plepler in a 5-minute video letter to pay the ransom within three days or they would put the HBO shows and confidential corporate data online.

Continues the Guardian report: "The hackers claim to have taken 1.5TB of data — the equivalent to several TV series box sets or millions of documents — but HBO said that it doesn’t believe its email system as a whole has been compromised."

Along with the video letter, the hackers have gone ahead and released 3.4GB of files, including technical data about the HBO internal network and admin passwords, draft scripts from five Game of Thrones episodes, and a month’s worth of email’s from HBO’s VP for film programming, Leslie Cohen.

The whole episode sounds as though it could have been derived from a script from Mr. Robot, but so far as I know, USA Network has, thus far, been immune from hacktivists.

HBO’s response, according to The Hacker News, is that the company’s "forensic review is ongoing."

But one has to wonder whether, somewhere on some back lot in Hollywood, that HBO’s brass is filling the gas tanks on a few dragons of its own.

For the audience, it may all just be pure entertainment.

But HBO is running a business, and they, nor any other going concern, should ever have to be held hostage by somebody calling themselves something as unimaginative as "Mr. Smith."

Especially not in Hollywood.

Written by turbotodd

August 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

Tribeca Film Festival And IBM Launch “Storytellers with Watson” Competition

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Human and machine collaboration has inspired some of society’s most important innovations, and it has long been a source of fascination in media and entertainment.

But it’s no longer just the subject of movie or videogame story lines; it’s also helping to inspire their very creation. Today the Tribeca Film Festival and IBM announced “Tribeca Presents Storytellers with Watson: A Tribeca Film Festival competition for Innovation sponsored by IBM.” The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, presented by AT&T, will be taking place from April 19-30 in New York City.

Starting today, participants in the U.S. can submit ideas on how they would apply Watson to any storytelling medium, such as film and video, web content, gaming, augmented reality and virtual reality.

IBM has worked with Tribeca to develop five use-case categories that can help guide the ideation process for submissions, including examples of cognitive solutions and how Watson APIs can be applied to their creation. Guiding categories include development, pre-production, production and post-production, audience experience and interaction, and marketing and distribution.

The aim is to encourage new thinking on the challenges that exist in creativity or productivity and how Watson can be applied to improving this experience.

The competition is open to the public and will also tap into Tribeca’s alumni network of thousands of media industry influencers, digital producers and creative firms to utilize the Watson platform to create original stories.

Over the past 16 years since the Tribeca Film Festival’s inception, this alumni community has submitted entries to the Festival and are actively involved in creating films, TV programming, online content and other forms of interactive digital media.

“The Tribeca Film Festival has always been a celebration of innovation and cutting-edge ideas,” said Andrew Essex, CEO at Tribeca Film Festival. “Since IBM Watson has been a big influence across many industries, we’re eager to see how our creative community will apply this technology to inspiring their own creative potential. Our collaboration with IBM is important to our mission because it spurs our community to push the limits of what they think is possible and find new inspiration that can redefine their approaches to art and storytelling.”

Watson helps professionals across industries discover new insights from massive amounts of data to solve problems and inspire creativity. The same cognitive technology that is being used to inspire new ideas and thinking among the Tribeca Film Festival community is also being applied in fields such as healthcare, education, retail, law, insurance, and more.

Within the media and entertainment industries, Watson is already helping professionals design and innovate, such as in fashion (with Marchesato create the “cognitive dress”), film (with 20th Century FOX to create the movie trailer for “Morgan”), cuisine (with Chef Watson to create new culinary combinations), music (via Watson Beat and Grammy award-winning producer Alex Da Kid), and architecture (with SOFTlab to create a sculpture inspired by Antoni Gaudi and the history of Barcelona).

The Storytellers with Watson competition submissions will be accepted through May 18, 2017. Ideas can be submitted via the contest’s online form and should include general information about the idea and a short video.

A group of IBM volunteers along with representatives from the Tribeca Film Festival will review the submissions and rate them for creativity, impact potential, and technical feasibility. Submissions will be narrowed down to five finalists who will compete for the winning position. The winner will receive a trip for two to the 2018 Tribeca Film Fest which includes airfare for two within the U.S, a hotel room, and two passes to the Festival.

For more details on the competition and submission process, please visit the “Storytelling with Watson” landing page.

Written by turbotodd

April 20, 2017 at 8:53 am

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: Chris Gardner And His Pursuit of Happyness

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Author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Chris Gardner speaks to the Tivoli Business Partner Summit audience in Las Vegas about his trials and tribulations as a single father who, despite finding he and his infant son homeless on the streets of San Francisco, overcame his great adversity and inspired millions around the world, and in the process raised the world's consciousness about the perils of homelessness and the importance of parenting.

Author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Chris Gardner speaks to the gathered Tivoli Business Partner Summit audience in Las Vegas about his trials and tribulations as a single father who, despite finding he and his infant son homeless on the streets of San Francisco, overcame his great adversity and inspired millions around the world, and in the process raised the world’s consciousness about the perils of homelessness and the importance of parenting.

You may not know Chris Gardner by name or by face. But if he told you that one of the world’s most bankable movie stars, one who travels with a four bodyguard security entourage, made a movie about his story, he might just get your attention, as he got mine when he kicked off this afternoon’s session at the Tivoli Business Partner Summit here at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

And that’s when Mr. Gardner explained that Will Smith was not going to be joining us, and also the first moment Chris Gardner had the audience in the palm of his hands, which he never let go for the ensuing 45 minutes.

If you don’t know the story behind the story behind “The Pursuit of Happyness,” then you’re missing out. But the irony wasn’t lost on Mr. Gardner, who joked that the people in “Hollyweird” spent $70 million to recreate a story he endured “for nothing.”

But as it turns out, it wasn’t for nothing, as it’s a story that has inspired people around the world, in the form of both a movie and a book, one which has been translated into six dialects of the Chinese language.

And it all started with an interview that Mr. Gardner almost didn’t  do with Barbara Walters for “20/20.”

But he did do the interview, which ran on a Friday, and on Monday the floodgates opened with calls wanting to exploit his story. Juxtapose that with another Friday he found himself in a Bay Area jail, a much longer weekend where he had to wait to get released so he could go and find his infant son.

Because ultimately, Gardner explained, that was his life’s work, a promise to himself: To break the cycle of failed fatherhood among black males, a promise he made when he was only five himself and didn’t have his own father around.

Soon, there was one call from the entertainment realm that interested him, one from Steve Tisch, a co-producer on “Forrest Gump” and part of a firm called “Escape Artists,” who convinced Gardner he wanted to help him share his story with the world through the form of a major motion picture.

Though Gardner was at first hesitant to okay Will Smith as the star — “This story is about inner space, not outer space” Gardner explained —  his daughter ultimately convinced him when she said “Papa, don’t worry.  If he can play Muhammad Ali he can play you.”

The key question everyone wanted to know, Gardner then continued, was “how do you become homeless?”

And his answer was, “life happens.”

He had worked his way into a great job at a local university, was soon married and an expectant father, and he was all about seizing opportunity.  After enduring for a period a cushy if modest lab equipment sales job, he one day saw a guy driving a Ferrari, which he offered to help find a parking spot for.  But he first wanted an answer to two questions:

“What do you do, and how do you do that?”

The answer was the guy was a stockbroker, cleared about $80,000 a month, and because Gardner was “pretty good with numbers,” decided that’s what he wanted to do with his life.

But as he again explained, “life happens,” and before he knew it he was destitute due to some accumulated parking tickets and some domestic woes at home.  Before he knew it, he was without a job, health care, and soon, even his wife and son.

It was a single policeman who, during his ten day jail stay, cut him some slack and allowed him to make a phone call so he could postpone the all-important stock trader assistant job position he was applying for.

Shortly thereafter, he was successful in getting the job, but he lost his wife and now had an infant son to take care of.  The boarding house he was staying in didn’t allow children, so he quickly found himself and his son on the streets of Oakland with no place to go.

It was at this point that Gardner explained that an estimated 23% of homeless people “have jobs and go to work everyday,” and that this problem has only grown through the economic downturn.

But through a series of ingenious, if challenging, moves, he found a way to take care of his son and endure the hard-nosed requirements of the new job, staying at times on the streets, at others in dime hotels, and yes, acceding to the kindness of strangers.

Including a reverend at a local homeless food distributor, Mo’s Kitchen, the proprietor of which saw Gardner standing in line with his infant son, an anomaly considering most of the kitchen’s visitors were homeless women with children.

“What are you doing with that baby?” the reverend asked one day.  “I’m gonna keep it,” Gardner explained.

And so every day for a year, that’s precisely what Gardner did.  “You would see me, my son, a stroller, one suit on my back and another in a hanging bag, and we hit the street, every day for a year.”

They slept outside, at airports (this was pre 9/11), a Union Station bathroom…wherever they could.  And Gardner observed the one thing his son remembers from this period was this: “Every time I looked up, my father was there.”

Gardner remembers, “He didn’t know we were homeless.”

And despite all else, Gardner stayed homeless, until such time that he could save enough money to find his own place, a small apartment not two blocks from the train station they once frequented for shelter.

Gardner went to explain that his son didn’t know that some of the times he ate, Gardner went hungry, or that sometimes he was able to get a hotel room only after first giving blood.  He didn’t know that, Gardner explained, “because that’s what fathers do.”

After spending their first night in their new home, Gardner’s son saw him leaving the apartment without carrying everything he owned, which he’d been forced to do for the better part of that year.

Gardner explained to him, “You know what son, we got a key now…we’re home.  We don’t have to carry stuff anymore.”

“That was the start of turning our lives around,” Gardner related, although it hadn’t come easy.  “After a year of struggle, I didn’t know how much more I could take when one day, my son, stood up in the bathtub, and said, ‘Papa, you know what?  You a good papa.’”

We know the rest of the story from the movie, and from Gardner’s retelling.  He went on to enjoy great success as a stock broker, ultimately arriving at Bear Sterns’ San Francisco office and making millions.

“Sometimes it’s okay to laugh all the way to the bank,” Gardner joked.

But through it all, Gardner never lost his perspective.

Much later, the great American poet Maya Angelou explained to Gardner that “This story ain’t even about you. This is about every mother who ever also had to be a father, and every father who ever also had to be a mother.”

This was about breaking the cycle of men who have not been there for their children.

And though you might not recognize Chris Gardner walking down the street if you ran right into him, he was there for his son.

And in the end, that’s all he really wanted any of us to know.

Written by turbotodd

March 3, 2013 at 11:56 pm

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