Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Downloadable Movies to spell the end of Disk media?

... [in response to a post contending that downloadable media will prevail before Blu-ray takes off] Considering how long it's taking to even get 100mps bandwidth in the USA to be standard, and how DRM issues are so 'quickly and smoothly' solved in this industry, I give BDs 10 years of glory at least. If I'm a homeowner, and given the choice between buying a BD player (1 time cost), or getting 1gbit internet access (monthly cost) in order to get my HDef movies, I think you underestimate the power of laziness. Disks will win, until bandwidth is a lot cheaper. There is also the problem with local distribution, who will distribute american movies in japan/Iraq/China? It better be some company locally because if you think downloading that linux distro over the WAN took a long time, wait until the internet backbone is cluttered with movies flying everwhere. Laying new cross continental lines aint cheap, and it ain't happening in less than 5 years. Who wants to pay for that much bandwidth? (I mean the extra bandwidth over the normal amount you need for regular net access) Probably the same people who order the FULL++ cable packages from Time Warner. The idea is good, it just has too many variables, each with their own problems when multiplied together makes it unlikely that the world will abandon portable media in the too near future. What is interesting though, is drawing comparisons to other mediums which have already weathered the "electronic" storm and survived. Books are still bought, and I prefer owning a physical book than the (arguably) failed attempt of MS, Mobi and others to sell ebooks for PDAs. I subscribe to online bike magazines to get the latest reviews and updates, but I still buy print magazines. Why? Because of the ability to browse the medium.. have it around the house to pickup and casually look through. Also, its physical presence gives you a sense of ownership. Movies are different for sure. you don't bring one into the john with you. but the ability to browse casually is still an important factor. If I have to boot up my media center just to browse my movie collection, then it's less likely to happen than if I had a shelf of DVDs. Besides, having a shelf full of anything impressive is an indication of your p3nis size, so if my collection is more visually impressive than yours, then haha, you better keep your wife away from me. These kind of intangibles are things that having a physical movie collection brings. Disks are also portable, so you can bring your movies to a friends to watch. Or lend them. Having to do the same will require some serious administrative infrastructure on online accounts that just doesn't exist yet. Rentals are different. You don't necessarily want to own the movie. You just want to watch it. This is perfect for the download medium. Porn is a great example of this. Incidentally, having an impressive collection of porn on your shelf is an exception to the p3nis size rule. When it finally happens, I see HDef downloads as being stripped down without all the directors cut, commentaries, extra languages, etc etc. No need to bloat up the download. Just the movie please. If I like the movie, I will go to the neighborhood movie store, and buy the BD version with all the extra goodies that ownership brings. Quite often people in the tech industry can get so hyped up with their own ingenuity/vision that they lose sight of reality. Would you settle with owning a d/l'ed version of the Lord of the Rings? Or giving a download coupon as a Xmas gift for your kids? Or would you want the one with the commemorative box, the authentic map of Middle Earth and replica One Ring? Music is once again different. Having a shelf full of music isn't as impressive as it used to be (unless they are old vinyls, in which case, you have a MONSTER kok.) Plus, music is bought to be arranged into playlists, and then played in the background while you have people(or person) over for a party(or parTAY). You don't want to be flubbing about changing CDs. This makes it perfectly suited to be stored in a little black box somewhere unseen. Disks will live. they will weather the storm, their presence will be diminished, but they will remain... just like how VHS is still around even after 10+ years of ceding to DVD. Until interfaces get more grandma friendly, transfer rates get faster to be able to move around this much data between mediums, and we get a new R/W mass storage medium that is more portable than a fat box that requires its own power source ( something like the isolinear chips of Trek ) the portable medium will still have a place. (some will be quick to point out that you could always store your collection on mass storage, and just burn movies onto disk if you wanted portablility. I propose that if you wanted to do that, most would rather just buy the BD movie on disk to begin with -- not to mention hollywood would NEVER allow that to happen. )

The Death of HD-DVD

Not yet, but I'll start this thread to take it off the 360 hw gripes one. Why is Bluray succeeding when Betamax failed? Bluray players are more expensive than HDDVD ones, but it seems to be taking an edge in the format wars. And unlike some analysts, I fully expect 1 format to destroy the other, complete death of the loser resulting in 3 years time. Betamax died to competing VHS. Why? Pros Betamax had higher quality. Cons Betamax players cost more than VHS. Betamax has shorter record times (1hour vs 4 hours on VHS) Sony was trying to sell quality over quantity back then. It didn't work. Bluray players cost more. (con) Bluray has technical advantages over HDDVD.(pro) sounds like history should repeat! Why isn't the same thing happening now? BD has longer recording times compared to HDDVD, just as VHS had longer times than betamax. (one of the main reasosn why people chose VHS), blu ray has this going for them.... But this alone wouldn't be enough, since users back in the 80's picked the cheaper option, so that should mitigate the technological advantages. But the market has changed. Buyers are no longer looking for a (any) recording option for their TV sets. the market of HDef is BUILT around high quality and high priced HDTV sets and flatscreens. Technology IS the focus of this day and age, while it wasn't in the past. Ease of use and price was. Besides people back then where happy gathering at a friends house and play twister and bridge, while in today's world, a man's worth is built around the size of his HDTV. Today's market is a lot more willing to shell out more for a player if it meant that we can support the "theoretically superior" format. Sure, 30gb may be enough says HDDVD advocates, but why sell yourself short? Why get that 750cc motorbike when your p3nis is bigger riding around a 1000cc liter bike? If you are gonna spend $5000 bucks on a home theatre, what does an extra $300 really matter for a bluray? Nothing. it doesn't. Consumers decision process goes something like this: 1) look at the list of movies available exclusively on each format. Look at the list of studios supporting each format. 2) if #1 does not sway your decision, then all things being equal, 50Gb is BIGGER than 30GB no matter how you explain why you don't really need 50GB (yet) The market has learned its lessons from the Bill Gates of the world ("uh, 640k should be enough for everyone!") to know that MORE is better. Bigger is better. All things being equal. Why do I think there will there only be 1 champion? Why not the stalemate that so many others are proclaiming? Because it makes no sense for the market to have 2 formats. We've seen it time and time again. Sure, there are those optimists who think that studios will just end up supporting both formats, but c'mon jimmy, these studios will ditch you faster than that 1 night fling you had at the tequila bar last sat if money was involved. and it simply doesn't make business sense to support both, if you can help it. (especially since stores like BB have chosen already) Once there looks to be a leader in the wars, (and there seems to be now) all will jump ship. Especially since in this day and age, changing the production format of your content can't be too hard. So who loses? 360 owners. but they still have games to play, so they won't mind too much. Plus, in 3 years time, MS will have released a BD version of their 360 anyhow seeing that every 3 years consoles get upgraded. Real losers will be ones that bought HDDVD players. But hey, they were cheaper than BD players, so they won't cry a river. You can place it in the attic beside that old CED player. Sure, as some have mentioned analysts have been predicting that BD win since late last year, but it has been an even battle. But the straw that will break the camels back, as it were, is the recent blockbuster announcement. Because frankly, for those of us who don't care (the market) the deciding factor will be which of the formats I can find at the local store. Therefore, today will be known as the day HDDVD died. It will take 3 years in dying, but the prognosis was delivered today. flame away. :-)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Right here right now,

There is no other place I'd rather be

I sit here

In the middle of a beautiful forest onsen getaway in the secluded hills of karayuzawa. A modern frank lloyd wright building with a field full of candles on the grass in front of us, with some local wild forest beer in my hand. It tastes a little fruity but with a hearty flavour. The rest of the gang are coming out of the onsen now. The sky is blue, the weather is perfect, 20 degrees with a cool breeze. The sound of the water tricling over the rocks and the birds in the forest surround me.

This is a real resort

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Installment #55 Big bike license, Golf, and Haunted Forests

I was recently in Hong Kong for business, and had a chance to check out the bar and club scene there. Its very different from tokyo, in that it was much more like New York, in as far as it was very exclusive. You really needed to be on a guest list to get into anywhere. The bouncers were real assholes. I suppose that is what happens when there is a very limited number of trendy bars around, you have to keep the riff raff out somehow. But the thing that was really stupid was that so long as you knew somebody inside, you could get in. So many grubby looking folks got in just because they knew somebody's name. That's lame. Very unlike in japan where clubs pretty much let you in if you look well dressed enough to spend some cash. At least I got to catch a glimpse of Jackie Chan's son, who was at Dragon 'i', a club in soho where we had dinner. He was there with some of his friends, very low key. He looks pretty dopey actually. Big nose like his dad. ah, calpis. I'm watching tv, and the new Calpis commercial comes on. For those of you who don't know, Calpis is the company that makes the infamous Pocari Sweat sports drink here. Anyway, their new slogan makes me spit out a mouthful of their product. It goes with most slogans that have half english and japanese mixed together. Right into the bargan bin of retardedness. The new specimen of comedic relief comes in the form of a cute jingle, accompanied by the phrase 'Karada ni piss, Calpis!' Karada means 'body' or 'health', and the phrase loosely translates to, 'Calpis! It's piss for your body!' Of course, they don't know that piss means urine. They probably thought it cute to state that the company has all sorts of 'piss' to offer for your health. Lovely. OOgata Menkyou That the big bike license here. In japan, for motorcycles, there are 3 separate licenses. 0-50cc, which you can ride with a regular car license, shogata, which allows you to ride 51-125cc, chuugata which lets you mount 126-400cc, and the Oogata, which is the unlimited license that allows you to ride anything with 2 wheels. Its this last license that I have been trying to get for the last 5 times, but have failed the test each time. The system is corrupt here; not corrupt as in china corrupt, but a stupid bureaucracy that has grown to the point of no reform. You can take the test from the DMV, or you can pay 200,000yen and take a school. If you take the school, there is no way you can fail. ( I took the school for my chuugata, and passed without problems ) If, though you decide to pay 4400yen to take the police test, then they will cook up whatever reason they want to fail you at least 6 times. In fact, nobody I know has passed the test with less than 6 tries. The average is 10 attempts. Of course, if you have been riding a big bike for 10 years, and read japanese, you can probably pass it in 1-2 tries. The problem is that on top of the fact that you have to demonstrate that you can pass a series of technical trials akin to the license tests you see in games like Grand Turismo, you also have to know a lot of stupid rules of the road that they do not explain to you until you break one, and fail the test. Couple this with the fact that once you do mess up enough to fail, then they stop you immediately, so that you cannot proceed to even attempt the other parts of the circuit, so you can't practice without failing. Anyway, all this pain is to encourage people to big business to the schools. Once I pass I will write up a step by step 'how to pass' list for the betterment of mankind. The irony of all this is that the tests don't really teach you much about riding in the real world. Anyway, I go attempt my next trial this week. Why am I taking the test you ask? Because I'm looking to get one of these babies, and my 400cc license won't allow me to ride one. These 2 italian dames are the best lookers of the bunch, in my opinion. I just love that naked look. The Shiver 750cc is a new one coming out from Aprilia later in June, with a new engine designed in house, and the first fly-by-wire ECM throttle in a bike. The looks are razor sharp. Just waiting for the first reviews to come in. Or one of these classic beauties, the Ducati Monster S2R1000, air cooled, the quintessential naked that started the whole class. It's still a looker, and comes in red and white or black with a mean racing stripe. The competition in this category would be the KTM 990 SuperDuke, the BMW F800, Honda Hornet, and the Triumph Speed Triple. None of which look as fine.


The italian ones are the most beautiful they stop a man in his tracks to gawk, but they require a lot of maintenance, takes a lot of TLC to keep in working order, and they don't age well. (Corrosion of the pipes is a big problem) They are known to be fiery in first gear, and it takes a little getting used to controlling them. They can get you in a lot of trouble. Austrian and German ones are functional, practical, but have a look that you need to get used to. They are angular instead of curvy, and usually have a odd quirk to their styling. In the case of Beemers, they always look a little too bulky for my liking. The engines are so overpowered for their frames that they sometimes leak coolant. (happened on a colleague's KTM 450sm) Japanese bikes are the most reliable, are the easiest to care for, (they practically clean themselves!) and have the best resale value thanks to long lasting parts. Someone once said that you could thrash a japanese bike all you like, and they keep working faithfully. They lack pizzaz, run very quiet, are well mannered, and have smaller displacement. ...Bikes are a lot like women. (ducks) Golf, or nothing. I have recently taken imposing a break 100 or bust policy. My game has stabilized a bit since returning to my old cheap japanese clubs from the taylormades, which had the wrong shaft flex for my swing. Still, I'm hovering around 110 with the score. I've already dropped close to 100,000yen this season on the game, going 6 times, but I need to do more if sub 100 is going to be a reality. Its an expensive game, but its a great one. Why? Because it challenges you at every skill level. You can always improve (unless you are Tiger). And your goals at each different stage changes. First you aim not to lose all your balls in the lake, then your aim to sink all puts in 2-3, then you start looking to get out of the bunker in 1, then you start working on driving relatively straight... etc...etc... No other sport/game demands of you that much diversity in required skills, and no other sport gives equal chance to fat, skinny, short, weak, and women alike. Its an addictive game, and I implore all of you in countries where the game is cheap to take advantage of your gift. In other news, a bunch of friends and I are planning to make a camping trip out to this famous forest near Mt. Fuji, which is allegedly haunted by the souls of the people who commit suicide there. Apparently over 100 bodies a year are found there, thanks to the dark forest being iconicized as an ideal suicide place in popular japanese literature. Sounds like a job for the Mystery Gang! or Blair Witch Project: Japan. Anyone want to join us? Aokigahara Back to work, and dreaming about italian bikes. But I leave you with this bit of twisted humour from the past. I found it like one finds gold nuggets in a stream of endless history. Needless to say, sometimes irony has a funny way of popping into our lives. "Why take diet pills when you can enjoy AYDS? Funny is not the appropriate term here...