Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘hollywood

Apple Watch

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Friday’s as good a day to start getting fit as any. And that includes Google, which has acquired FitBit for $2.1B, ramping up its speed in the wearables/fitness category.

The move could certainly help amp up the Fitbit line of tracking devices in the near term, but could also help accelerate Google’s own efforts for its Wear OS smartwatch software.

Apple TV+ launched late yesterday, and includes nine original titles in 100+ countries. The price is $4.99/month, or $49.99/year (and one year free trial with the purchase of any new Apple device).

Apple is experimenting with the release model of its new content. It released all 10 episodes for its period drama “Dickinson,” but for other shows like “For All Mankind” and “The Morning Show,” it released the first three episodes, followed by weekly releases.

In other words, half Netflix, half HBO. Maybe they’ll find their way to, “I binge, therefore I am.”

Hidden in the airwaves, China’s three state-backed wireless carriers started launching 5G service in select cities today. And there are roughly 13,000 base stations that have been installed in Beijing that enable 5G, of which 10,000 are already operating.

U.S. telcos, did you hear that pin drop?

Written by turbotodd

November 1, 2019 at 5:35 am

Posted in 2019, 5G, apple watch

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Brooks and Bran

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Spoiler Alert!

If you haven’t watched the end of the PGA Championship yet on your DVR, I’m about to congratulate the winner, so stop reading this post now.

If you did watch, you know it was one half of the “Smash Brothers” who took his fourth major golf championship inside of 23 months: Brooks Koepka.

Pretty spectactular stuff.

My boss actually called this one, and I couldn’t say I disagreed with him. Brooks seems to be one of those once in a generation players who comes loaded to bear on the golf course, especially at the majors. 

And when I say loaded to bear, I’m talking about insane distance off the tee (but also accuracy in hitting fairways), great up and down (scrambling), and some great putting (which is an area where he has struggled in the past).

Dustin Johnson, the other Smash bro, put on a good run, especially in the middle of the round when Brooks bogied four holes in a row to take his lead to one, but it just wasn’t to be, and Koepka took the Wannamaker for the second year in a row.

Now, the other spoiler alert: GOT. 

If you don’t watch “Game of Thrones” you need to get with the program. Of course, now it’s all over, and as I predicted, Jon killed Dany and Bran became king.

Apparently a lot of folks didn’t like the last several episodes and/or the ending, but it all worked well for me.  Eight seasons is a lot to wrap up such epic storytelling, and I figured after the Drogon Burning Man fest from last weekend, Dany had to go.  And Tyrian convinced Jon, and that was that.

So what does all this have to do with technology?  Everything and nothing.

GOT certainly has everything to do with clashing empires, which is exactly what we’re seeing now with the “Chimerica” tech wars.

Over the weekend, Reuters reported that Google has suspended business with China’s Huawei telco business, for anything “that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.”

That means no more licensing of Android to Huawei.

But what this is really about is the burgeoning big power battle over the evolution of 5G technology — meaning, the U.S. does not want China to be a primary provider of 5G equipment due to concerns around … well, you name it: surveillance, national security, concerns over economic power, technology transfer, etc.

So if Huawei loses in the 5G battle (and I’m not convinced they do, particularly if European and other partners don’t go along with the ‘Merica First 5G battle cry), who wins?

Vendors like Ericsson, HPE, Nokia, Intel, and Qualcomm, certainly. But let’s not forget, their products are typically much more expensive than those from Huawei.

We’ll see if it’s the almighty dollar — or the strengthening renminbi — that ultimately prevails.

 

Written by turbotodd

May 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm

Posted in 2019, 5G, china, golf

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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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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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I’d Like to Thank Netflix

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Okay, so the Academy Awards weren’t quite as bad as I expected them to be, considering they didn’t have a formal host this year.

But I also used technology (my TiVo) to zoom through most of those speeches. Sorry, :TLdw!

But them not having a host got me to thinking, why didn’t the Academy just hire themselves an AI avatar of some sort to deliver a traditional opening and emcee the whole affair.

No, I’m not lobbying for OB< Watson, but hey, if we’re going to get ready for our AI overlords, what better way to prepare we humans than to take one of global culture’s most celebrated awards shows and demonstrate how computers are ready to compete for even the most highest echelon posts in society.

For your consideration: It seemed liked the fix against progress and change was still in during last night’s awards.  

Sure, Spike Lee finally got his long overdue Oscar (like, 30-years overdue), but Glenn Close got shafted for her Oscar (again) and “Roma” didn’t take Best Picture.

Not because it wasn’t a great movie (in my opinion, it was), and certainly Alfonso Cuaron (its director) won pretty much everything else.

I think “Roma” lost because Netflix is winning, and Hollywood is losing.

Hollywood has a Netflix problem, and the Academy voters didn’t want to shine any more of a spotlight on it than is absolutely necessary.

But I have a few words of wisdom for the Academy: You can’t stop progress. Hollywood is getting Netflixed the way Blockbuster did, only now it’s streaming instead of CDs, and the business model is changing. Bigtime.

I’m a good example of the problem.  I used to go to the movies roughly once a week or every two weeks.  Let’s say that added up to over $500 a year, more if you count refreshments.

Now, I spend $10.99/month on Netflix.  That’s about a quarter of what it used to cost me to go the movies.

Whatever I can’t catch on Netflix I’ll watch on Amazon, I’ll fill in either with Prime or direct rentals.

And I’m just one person.

Multiply that behavior by….millions?…and, yes, Hollywood has a problem.  At least when it comes to big budget movie-making.

On the other hand, Apple is getting into the filmed entertainment game, Amazon and Netflix are spending billions on new content, and still there’s 57 channels and seemingly nothing on.

In other words, there’s still an enormous amount of filmed content development upside (i.e., lots of demand), even for high-quality so-called “art” films like “Roma.”

But no matter how good a Netflix-financed film may have been (or may be), the Academy isn’t quite ready to give it Best Picture. 

Such a move would be to reward the barbarians storming the Burbank backlot gates, and the threatening business model they present.

But the business is going to change regardless of where the awards end up.

It won’t be long before Netflix will not only be a major global major film distributor, but its AI algorithms will be helping determine what the pipeline of those new films should be about and what countries and markets from which they will emanate and what topics they should concern.

Big data is already happening to Hollywood.  AI is on its heels.

Just don’t hold your breath for an AI Billy Crystal to host the Oscars, or for Netflix to win a Best Picture nod, anytime soon. 

Written by turbotodd

February 25, 2019 at 11:30 am

Posted in 2019

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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

Faster Media

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I indicated in a post recently that I had gotten rid of my HBO bundle through AT&T U-Verse’s system, with all due apologies to Bill Maher and the new show about news, “The Newsroom.”

But my underlying futility was really about the inability to buy or rent specific content “a la carte” (i.e., be able to buy specific channels of content without having to provide the financial overhead underwriting others) than it was about the quality of the content itself.

New models are of digital content development and management are emerging that can help challenge these legacy financial constructs. Today, at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC), IBM announced it has helped Canal+ Group deliver and archive digital comment.

Canal+ Group is the leading pay-TV broadcaster in France, and now will be able to more easily launch and manage new channels and services such as on-demand, web-TV, and even mobile-TV.

Prior to its process and archiving overhaul, Canal+ often used separate and isolated systems to manage its services, often making the production process cumbersome, manually intensive and costly.

Today, the staff has access to an interactive portal that collates and manages over 170 hours of content per day or 8,000 programs per year, whether from tape, external files or post-production video.

The intuitive portal allows multimedia content to flow back and forth in real-time across business units such as programming, advertising, editorial, archiving, production, and distribution.

“This project has helped Canal+ undergo a major transformation, not just in terms of how we operate internally, but how we service our customers,” said Jo Guegan, executive vice president, Technology and Information Systems, Canal+ Group. “

“This new intelligent system ensures we have the tools to produce and process programs in a time frame that keeps us ahead of our competitors in France and globally. As a result, Canal+ has become one of the first organizations in the world to dynamically monitor its workflow processes.”

Written by turbotodd

September 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm

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