recognizing Arthur C. Clarke’s third law

I’m falling in love, my Walkman and me

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walkman tvIt’s been 30 years since Sony Corp. introduced the Walkman to an amazed world. Somewhere deep in my closet of obsolete gizmos that I can’t bear to part with is a Sony Walkman that not only played stereo cassettes with auto-reverse, it also had an AM/FM tuner and – in what was cutting edge for the time (1986?) – received a few channels of TV audio.

I couldn’t find the exact model on Pocket Calculator’s Walkman Museum, but subsequently I was surprised to learn that newer ones are still available.

(Title lyric from Veruca Salt.)


Written by chris

July 4, 2009 at 2:00 am

Posted in Culture, Hardware

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They’re gonna put me in the movies

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twilight-posterToday’s NY Times has an article about Cast It Systems , a company that securely catalogs, tags, shares and otherwise handles digitized auditions for casting directors and their associates. It includes tools for comments and tracking, as well as obviously making geographical location less of a factor.

The productions pay a fee to access the database, making possible events like the recently launched open casting call for Twilight – which I would assume had more value as a publicity generator than as a practical way of acquiring talent.

That cynicism aside, Cast It Systems counts all the major studios and many production companies among its customers. It has successfully been used for The Proposal, The Hangover, Steven Spielberg’s Munich, Star Trek, HBO’s Hung, and many other projects.

Eric Hayes and Chris Gantos predict their services have potential for use in sports and even placement in mainstream jobs.

(Title lyric by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, via Buck Owens and – later – the Beatles.)

Written by chris

June 28, 2009 at 10:22 am

Posted in Film, Internet, Television

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Who will dance on the floor in the round

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Moonwalk Richard LarteyOne of the events honoring Michael Jackson provides a test for judging who “gets” Web 2.0. Basically, any entertainment executive who doesn’t understand why the Liverpool Street moonwalk flash mob was wonderful should hire someone who does.

Here’s what happened. The Prince of Pop died Thursday afternoon here in Los Angeles. The brilliant Rob Manuel, 8 hours ahead in London, woke up to the news and Twittered that a tribute flash mob would be fun. By 6 pm London time, Milo Yiannopoulos had  leveraged the power of social networking into having many hundreds of otherwise unaffiliated people gather to dance (or at least happily mill about – see picture) to Billie Jean at one of London’s busiest commuter rail stations.

(Title lyric by Michael Jackson. Image borrowed from here.)

Written by chris

June 27, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Angel of death standing by

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Angel of Death - Zoe BellAngel of Death, the web series by Eisner Award-winning writer/cartoonist Ed Brubaker, is morphing from 10 parts on into a 90-minute movie on Spike TV.

The White Rock Lake Production will air July 25 at midnight ET/PT. It stars Zoe Bell (pictured in character as Eve, the assassin of the title), Lucy Lawless, Doug Jones, Ted Raimi, Brian Poth, Justin Huen and Jake Abel. Paul Etheredge directed and John Norris produced.

It’s not the first time Spike TV has picked up a show from the Internet. In April it started running MoCap, LLC, the darkly humorous adventures of a low rent motion capture company trying to get a foothold in the world of video games. Worldwide Biggies produced six half-hour episodes exclusively for Spike TV.

(Title lyric is from Ozzy Osbourne.)

Written by chris

June 26, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Those commercials was our intermissions

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simpsonsTop-rated TV shows, like The Simpsons and CSI, can now command higher ad rates online than they can for their regular prime-time showings. A Bloomberg story goes into this in some depth: The Simpsons, for example, gets $60 CPM on Hulu and $20-$40 CPM during prime-time.

Gigaom emphasizes that Hulu caps its ad breaks and therefore its potential revenue. Analyst Michael Nathanson pointed out that a Simpsons episode on Hulu has just 37 seconds of ads compared to a broadcast episode’s nine minutes.

It’s nice to get some numbers starting to prove the higher CPM value that should be obvious intuitively. (It’s also amazing how surprised some TV traditionalists are by these numbers.) Online viewers have actively chosen to watch the program instead of finding the least-bad show for while they zone out. They also know that online ad breaks are short – therefore viewers sit through them rather than go to the bathroom or refrigerator.

(Title lyric Jim Jones [nsfw].)

Written by chris

June 25, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Posted in Hardware, Television

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Your true colors start to show

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totalrecallDr. Yadong Yin has figured out a way to mimic nature’s iridescent colors in a controlled manner using magnetochromatic microspheres. Butterfly wings, bird’s feathers and other naturally occurring iridescence is caused by light waves cancelling each other out in some places and reinforcing them in others, as the Economist explains. Dr. Yin does it by using a magnetic field to rearrange the microstructures of incredibly tiny iron oxide polymer beads suspended in oil.

Earlier reports noted that the bead goo was liquid, so its practical applications were limited. But now Dr. Yin has progressed to where the bead goo only has to be liquid when it’s actively changing color. This opens up possibilities for ink, textiles, environmentally safer paint, and posters that can be updated in situ – just heat it up, change the colors however you like, then let it cool and solidify again.

Personally I’m thinking of fun with nail polish and lipstick, like the receptionist in Total Recall.

(Title lyric is from A.F.I..)

Written by chris

June 25, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Watch out

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mio_moov500_turn_globalMio is releasing satnav with an integrated TV tuner (via /. ) in the UK.  The Mio Spirit line was introduced at CES, but TV capabilities weren’t announced until it showed off the Mio Moov V500 (pictured) and V700 range at Computex Taipei 2009.

The device audibly warns you not to watch TV while driving, and it repeats the warning if it detects movement faster than 5 mph. What could possibly go wrong?

“It’s not intended at all for drivers to use while they are driving,” a Mio spokesperson assured PC Pro magazine, adding that the ability to watch television on the move was for users travelling by bus and for children travelling in the back of a car.

But getting back to geekphilia, the devices also have things like multiple ways of finding points of interest, a button that captures on-the-fly location and voice memos, and pre-loaded photos and travel information.

(Title lyric by Chris Cornell.)

Written by chris

June 23, 2009 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Hardware, Television

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