4/27/08

A Letter to SciFi Re: Battlestar Galactica Streaming Episodes

When I found out the season premiere episode of my favorite television show would show up on SciFi.com ten hours before it aired on proper television I was thrilled. The show: "Battlestar Galactica," a great piece of science fiction and character drama fused togehther. 


At about 12:03 PM that day, I had realized that the episode would be out. No problem, I said to myself as it was probably just a flash player that could be started any time throughout the hours leading up to the show. 

I was wrong. Luckily, 3 minutes isn't to big of a deal, as it usually is the previouslies" and maybe a minute of dialog that I had missed. The episode went without a problem, with the occasional commercial for "Iron Man" (which, by the way, I can't wait for it to come out-- the barrage of advertising will finally end) and Intel processors.

In the next 2 weeks, SciFi.com decided it would be a little more explicit about the details about how the streaming works. Now, of course, this was unexpected, as I didn't expect SciFi to go ahead and air each episode on the net 10 hours early. Yes, they warned, "One Time Only, starting at 12 P.M. No Pause, No Rewind, No Fastforward." 

One week later, the wording changed, adding the word "preview," but still came with the "No Pause" clarification. I thought it would be the same. Instead, about 20 minutes into the episode, and the third commercial break... the feed just stopped.  

The internet freaked out. Maybe the ending of the episode was so amazing that they couldn't show it early for fears of spoilers. The ending of this particular episode was no more surprising than the previous episode's surprise. 

That leads to this letter:

Dear SciFi,

I love your show "Battlestar Galactica." I know you love it too. You advertise it, you air marathons all of the time, you even showed episodes early.

And then you "frakked" over your fans. 

These kind of things make no sense to me. Is it really hard to clarify what "sneak peek," and "preview" means  to your viewers? Especially when I distinctly remember you saying "preview" for your full episode streams. 

Maybe you can make it up to me, and the fans, next week by putting the full episode up on the site? Or you can buy me dinner. That's cool, too. 

Thank You,
A Concerned Fan


4/15/08

The Kooks Play It Safe on "Konk"


The Kooks today released their sophomore album “Konk,” the follow up to 2006's “Inside In/ Inside Out.” The debut album had popular radio songs like “Na├»ve” and “Ooh Lah.” In the two years since the debut album, lots have changed. In general.

The Kooks' trademark sound is safe and secure in “Konk.” From the distinctly British simple voice of lead Luke Pritchard, to the mixture of acoustic and electric guitars, it's all here again in 2008.

One thing that the Kooks does again, and they did on the debut, is that there's no real way to classify each song: there's no ballad, no arena hit; arguably, the pacing is erratic and jarring.That being said: it's exactly what I love about the Kooks; it's in many ways disheveled and uneven, but it has its own sense of order.

While Panic at the Disco on their second album did something entirely different from their debut, “Konk” is a continuationsof '”Inside In/ Inside Out.” It's easy to want to detract arbitrary points for lack of originality from the band, but why fix a sound that isn't broken?

If you liked The Kooks' debut album, you'll find more of the same: shouting choruses, mysteriously catchy lyrics, and genuinely fun music.



Notable Songs To Download:

Always Where I Need To Be
Gap
One Last Time
Tick of Time

4/12/08

Operating Systems and The Browser

TechCrunch reported early this week that Microsoft is “collapsing” and that Yahoo! needs to be purchased in order for them to stay afloat. Michael Arrington, the author, says that most Mac users and “early adopters” use the web browser as the primary use of the operating system.

There are a few things that I disagree with, in the article. For one thing, Microsoft is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Even in the operating system market, they've seen low adoption on Vista for business, they will still manage to fix the product that have many people against it. Basically, if they can roll out more improvements this year, they'll stay afloat. Microsoft also has its entertainment division (Xbox and Zune), its mobile operating system, which are doing okay.

The other problem is, I don't think the browser is the new operating system. Though a lot of communication is now done through the browser, people typically do have a preference on which operating system they use. My preference is Mac OS X, a result of my vehement hatred towards the above mentioned “collapsing” Windows Vista. I like OS X because it's very customizable and very standard.

But the internet is not a safe place by any stretch of the imagination: using the Google Docs web app to store spreadsheets regarding customer data is not safe, and requires a off browser appllication. There are also plenty of internet enabled applications like Digsby that communicate with the web that give you an off browser experience that seems cleaner (where is the Mac app?).

So people are still reliant on the operating system primarily, while I do see that there are some strides towards internet applications, some people and businesses require the offline functions that operating systems provide.

4/9/08

The Politics of The Web

Illinois Senator Barack Obama, presidential candidate, spoke at Google in November of 2007. In his speech, he spoke about freedom of speech, and how internet service providers (ISPs) play into this:

Part of the reason why I'm able to type a post and have it on this web page is because of the current state of the web: it is neutral. In recent years, many ISPs are trying to change it, by tiering the web. “High volume” sites like YouTube and Google would cost more for faster access to the site. This is a scary, future.

Comcast is already managing the internet in scary ways ways; according to
ArsTechnica, the FCC is looking into Comcast's practice of “throttling” the speed of peer to peer downloads on a client called BitTorrent. As with most P2P networks, there's always the possibility of copyrighted content being on the service, but many services and sites turn to BitTorrent to cut down on bandwidth costs. If the ability to share content, legal or illegal, is hindered at all, freedom of speech is out the window.

The internet is also the new newspaper. Content is now dynamic and always updated. If access to political blogs like the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report, is hindered again, there is a serious first amendment issue at hand here.

Let me say it again:
the net is the new newspaper. That's partly true. It's also the net's newspaper: controlled by the crowd. Digg, as I've mentioned before on this blog, is a site with content submitted by users, voted and promoted by users. Jay Adelson, cofounder of Digg, in an interview with All Things Digital, says that news gathering services are reactive to Digg: and more and more the users are influencing the content editorial services are providing. It also has influenced that dynamic and fast-updating sites: you'll notice on New York Times that the sites have little indicator as to when they were last updated. This has happened in the last year, year and a half at the most. CNN and pretty much any big news services is doing it.

A prime example of the crowd controlling the content is when Digg got served with a cease and desist when a
code that allows HD-DVD (Hey! I've talked about that before, too!) content to be “unlocked” and saved primarily for backup purposes (though, it's always possible that it could have been used for redistribution) was posted on the site. Digg, initially listening to the demands, pulled the content. This created a literal revolt: there was a full day where all content was promoted to the front page was the code, including a song dedicated to the code. Digg “reversed” its decision to pull the content, and life went on.

Cable television is often thought to be an open soap box where anyone can put whatever content they want on television, this isn't true. Al-Jazeera launched an English version of their channel early last year, or late two years ago, and has been picked up by few cable services, but they're streaming on the web. That is the freedom of the internet that everyone has a right to.

In many locations, one big company like Comcast is the sole ISP for customers, and if practices like throttling web traffic continues, it creates an interesting paradigm. As traffic keeps getting shaped and essentially slowed down, where are customers going to go from the sole ISP? Nowhere.

But what about the politics of the web, specifically the presidential campaign?

From the video at the top of the page, the internet is a space where Obama is commited to maintaining the neutrality of the web. According to CNET[
link], this is something he is comitted to in his first year of office.

Hillary Clinton is in
favor of it, but has not divulged in details.

John McCain, on the other hand, feels
differently: "When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment.” The problem with controlling the “pipe” is again hindering the ability for voices to be heard. If I have to pay to keep a website's servers running, I should expect everyone out there trying to access my content to be able to access it at the same speed. If I have advertisers on the site, the advertisers expect “visibility” at the same speed.

The future of the web is uncertain in the way it's handeled by the ISPs, because many will take cheap internet access in exchange for freedom of speech and freedom of access. We need legislation passed in order to keep that freedom safe.