2007.08.31

Petty Bickering

19.51.36 - Mark

Apparently NBC and Apple are bickering over video on iTunes, with NBC saying they're not going to renew their contract (which expires at the end of the year) with Apple because they want to bundle Movies with TV episodes, jack up the pricing and throw more DRM at non-existent problems. Apple meanwhile is more than happy to let NBC screw themselves.

There are a few things to note in this little mess. First, at $1.99 the networks are making a decent wad of cash. I haven't dug up the numbers recently, but for an hour long prime time TV broadcast the network will make about $.60 per viewer selling advertising spots.

I'm sure what's bugging some idiot executive at NBC is that they can't price the iTunes videos the same as the inevitable cost of the same episode of DVD. While things like Heroes, Studio 60, and other broadcast shows might sell for just under $2 / episode in a box set, some of their cable properties like Battlestar Galactica, Psych, or Monk are well over $2.50 an episode (BSG is over $3.50 an episode on DVD). There's a certain understandable logic in that argument, but it's flimsy at best.

iTunes videos are low quality, limited to a couple of devices, and lack all the special features you get in a DVD box set, so in reality iTunes videos are, bluntly, a rip off already. Jacking the price up any is stupid, but pushing it up to, is one article has placed it, $5 an episode is just shy of mugging your customers and leaving them for dead.

Personally I've got bittorrent.

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2007.08.30

Sweet Sugar Cane

17.23.13 - Mark

I love pure sugar cane sodas, but most of the everyday sodas have long since moved to High Fructose Corn Syrup, which despite what the bottlers may say, is no where near as smooth as pure sugar cane. While there are a few brands that hold true to using pure sugar cane, namely Jones Soda, the only hope for sugar cane sodas are Mexican imports, holiday runs of kosher coke, or the few independent bottlers that refuse to move to HFCS. Dublin Dr. Pepper is likely the most famous, but with Waco, TX 1200 miles away (and shipping that costs twice what the soda does) it's not something I get to enjoy much. However, from random browsing, Dublin isn't the end all of brand name sugar cane sodas. There's a bottler in West Jefferson, NC (which is a more accessible 70 miles away) that still uses sugar cane for it's non-diet sodas. I think I might need to make a soda run in the near future.

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2007.08.27

Burned and lightly salted

00.44.22 - Mark

I've been in NC for 5 years now (almost exactly) but I've somehow never made it to the beach, which is apparently what everyone in NC does. Coming from Iowa large bodies of salt water don't really matter that much and my only experience with the Atlantic ocean up until today could be condensed into it sucks. I had gone on a school sponsored (privately funded) east coast trip in 2000 which included visiting Washington DC, Gettysburg, and other random places with some educational value on the east coast. One of the places the east coast trip went to was Virginia Beach, and of course they checked us into a ocean front hotel. They of course planned on letting us play in the ocean, but for some reason I can't even remember we weren't allowed to go more than knee deep into the water. 93.7 quintillion (I think I did that unit conversion right) gallons of water reduced to little more than a kiddie pool that swallowed a salt truck.

That more or less changed yesterday. While down in Savannah, GA visiting my brother we went to Tybee Island and spent some (limited) time in the water before coming back to NC. We were there right as low tide hit so it could have been a lot more impressive, but I get why NC makes a big deal about going to the beach now. Large bodies of salt water are a whole lot more fun than some pool with a chlorine chemical concoction. Even if I have a sunburn and can use my head as a salt shaker...

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2007.08.21

I want an iPhone, sort of

20.38.07 - Mark

For an Apple geek, I haven't said much about the iPhone. I mean this is a device I've been wanting to see for nearly a decade (I used to sketch my own iPhone mock ups during study hall as a high school freshman about 7 years ago) Sure the fact that it exists is pretty damned amazing, but I've long since realized that until I have a chance to really try it out there's not a lot of stuff to add to the discussion, that said, I've now had the chance to briefly use a couple of iPhones, and to be concise, they're freaking amazing.

To be a bit more detailed, I love the interface. While I didn't do any text entry, I have played with a couple of the more advertised features, like the amazing photo abilities built into the phone, and had a short chance to play with the Google maps applet. I honestly wish I had a solid case for getting an iPhone, but I've got to many problems to really get one.

For one thing the cost is pretty steep, and while I could probably make a good argument for needing it's utility, I'd rather have a full blown laptop for a couple hundred dollars more (It's going to be a while before I qualify for a new Cingular / AT&T contract) or a couple hundred dollars less for a PSP or midrange PDA. Secondly AT&T is the same old Cingular, which means service in Northwest North Carolina sucks. Outside of population centers with more than 5000 people or on the interstates (and even then...) Cingular just doesn't provide service around here, let along more advanced connections like mobile broadband. Even in population centers you walk indoors and you pray your signal doesn't disappear.

I also really want it for the features I didn't get to try, such as the nonlinear access to voicemail, or are mind numbingly obvious like the ability to easily lock the phone (something I've learned is nigh impossible to do with Motorola's phone interface)

Apple has yet another amazing product under it's belt, but locking it up with Cingular service, is just plain ass dumb. If I could use it with Verizon and their EVDO networks (who despite the dumb commercials actually carry about coverage areas), I'd probably find a way of converting

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2007.08.17

Trying not to kill electrons

00.25.22 - Mark

So in addition to reacclaimating myself to the real world, I've been dealing with broken electronic devices.

Two weeks ago I somehow managed to kill my camera. While it chose a good day to die on me (last day of camp) it's well established that I'm a lot happier when I have a working digital camera. On the plus side Canon's customer service is amazing. I called last Friday and after not arguing with the [knowledgeable] phone monkey, I had the camera packed up and shipped within 90 minutes of looking up the Canon Support Phone number. I've never had that sort of thing happen when calling tech support. Assuming they don't take forever to fix my camera, I've got another reason to love Canon.

The other dead electronics I've dealt with this week is my 91 Honda Accord's stereo, which has been dead for so long most people who get in it have become accustomed to not even trying to coax it into speaking. Rather than trying to fix the factory head unit I opted to install a new Sony stereo that has an iPod dock connector. I probably had about half a dozen people tell me to get it professionally installed, but in reality all it required was splicing together a dozen wires (I used crimp connectors, but if I was doing it over would solder and heat shrink it) then put it in place of the old stereo. Cosmetically it could look better, but I'd rather have a few cosmetic blemishes than fork over $75 (or more) and have it look a little nicer. Besides, installing it boosted my confidence on working on cars. While I've got no problem ripping into delicate electronics like laptops and iPods, cracking into my car was a little more daunting. Might be the fact that I don't place my life at risk when I use my computer...

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2007.08.11

Some weeks later

23.31.48 - Mark

Camp is done once again, and I've been painfully thrust back into the real world kicking and screaming. Well maybe not kicking and screaming, but Raven Knob is not something you really want to leave behind. Fortunately I've got a few camp related projects that should keep me free from a full blown withdrawal. Among other things I did get around to ordering the panoramic photo I took at the beginning of the summer (only about 11 weeks ago...) and sorting out the 4000+ photos I took during the already mentioned 11 weeks. Once some of the chores get finished up (unpacking, catching up on 3 months of news, other random shit) I'll pick up the posting rate. I might have gone to camp, but the rest of the world didn't take the same 3 month vacation I did.

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