Sunday, October 15, 2006
Well this series takes the cake. best TV series to come out of the USA in a LOOOOONG TIME... I have been lucky to see the 1st part of season 3, and this take TV series to a whole new level! Makes everything else on the old box looks dated and boaring! About time someone took TV into a new level of engaging and thought provoking stories!
BUY this DVD set when it comes out.. it is brilliant writing, acting, visuals the lot! Just do it!
A total surprise to me , I never saw this at the movies.. but I have now seen this on DVD, and let me tell you...this movie rocks.... best movie since Shrek....so IF you havn't seen it... go see it!!! Buy it... give it as an xmas present! Good to see Adult/kids animation back in action, unlike some other crocks (like "the wild" or "open season", which are TOTAL CRAP!) 9/10! (minus 1 point for some sucky music), they should have used open season's music with talking heads wild wild life!
Monday, August 28, 2006
This is a such a great post, I thought I would duplciate it here... the original post can be found here
read on and enjoy :)
On August 13 at 3:04 AM, a Windows server that I've been running for all of two weeks--it just replaced an Xserve G5--was attacked by a new strain of malware. This worm/trojan/backdoor/proxy/IRCbot/DDOS agent shared some characteristics with a known exploit, but it went well beyond what was described. I believed at the time of the infection, and even more strongly now, that this exploit's latent damage potential has been underestimated. I view the terse and vague update on the CERT site regarding the less tenacious strain of this beast with a sense of foreboding.
The attack I encountered occasioned a re-examination of a common question: Is Windows more vulnerable to malware than OS X? I've encountered no clearer or more definitive proof point than this attack. To set the stage, I'll describe the malware's methods. The only victim requirement is that a Windows system--client or server from 2000 and XP on up, 32 and 64-bit--be on an Internet-accessible IP address and listening for socket requests to the Windows Server service. The attacker connects to the Windows Server service, overflows a fixed-length buffer and tricks the service into executing code contained in a portion of the buffer. The attack edits the Registry to turn off the Windows firewall and packet filter, disables notifications that you're running with reduced security, and opens your system to anonymous access. It then uses the Registry to insert plant a pair of Windows services that run with SYSTEM privileges. Processes owned by that pseudo-user can literally do anything, unchecked, to the local machine. The malware services launch and announce your exploited system's presence via IRC and IM. After that, an IRC bot or (sub)human driver can make your system do whatever it wants, including making it a nest for more malware. In my case, it was so eager to scan the Internet for other systems to infect that it locked my server's CPUs at 100 percent and gave itself away.
To nail itself in place, two services watch for and regenerate each other even if their files are deleted. The malware adds an entry to Administrator's login script, and it watches for a privileged invocation of Windows Explorer (like Finder) and attaches a malicious thread to that.
I've been giving it great deal of thought, and I came up with a reasons pointing to the likelihood that Windows is at greater risk of catastrophic attacks. It's not easy reading, but it was either this dense packing or a book-length blog post.
• All Windows background processes/daemons are spawned from a single hyper-privileged process and referred to as services.
• By default, Windows launches all services with SYSTEM-level privileges.
• SYSTEM is a pseudo-user (LocalSystem) that trumps Administrator (like UNIX's root) in privileges. SYSTEM cannot be used to log in, but it also has no password, no login script, no shell and no environment, therefore
• The activity of SYSTEM is next to impossible to control or log.
• Most of the code running on any Windows system at a given time is related to services, most or all of which run with SYSTEM privileges, therefore
• Successful infection of running Windows software carries a good chance of access to SYSTEM privileges.
• Windows buries most privileged software, service executables and configuration files in a single, unstructured massive directory (SYSTEM32) that is frequently used by third parties. Windows will notify you on an attempt to overwrite one of its own system files stored here, but does not try to protect privileged software.
• Microsoft does not sign or document the name and purpose of the files it places in SYSTEM32.
• Windows has no equivalent to OS X's bill of materials, so it cannot validate permissions, dates and checksums of system and third-party software.
• Windows requires that users log in with administrative privileges to install software, which causes many to use privileged accounts for day-to-day usage.
• Windows requires extraordinary effort to extract the path to, and the files and TCP/UDP ports opened by, running services, and to certify that they are valid.
• Microsoft made it easy for commercial applications to refuse a debugger's attempt to attach to a process or thread. Attackers use this same mechanism to cloak malware. A privileged user must never be denied access to a debugger on any system. My right to track down malware on my computers trumps vendors' interests in preventing piracy or reverse-engineering. Maintaining that right is one of the reasons that open source commercial OS kernels are so vital.
• Access to the massive, arcane, nearly unstructured, non-human-readable Windows Registry, which was to be obsolete by now, remains the only resource a Windows attacker needs to analyze and control a Windows system.
• Another trick that attackers learned from Microsoft is that Registry entries can be made read-only even to the Administrator, so you can find an exploit and be blocked from disarming it.
• Malicious code or data can be concealed in NTFS files' secondary streams. These are similar to HFS forks, but so few would think to look at these.
• One of the strongest tools that Microsoft has to protect users from malware is Access Control Lists (ACLs), but standard tools make ACLs difficult to employ, so most opt for NTFS's inadequate standard access rights.
Why this can't happen under OS X:
• OS X has no user account with privileges exceeding root.
• Maximum privilege is extended only to descendants of process ID 1 (init or Darwin's launchd), a role that is rarely used and closely scrutinized.
• Unlike services.exe, launchd executes daemons and scheduled commands in a shell that's subject to login scripts, environment variables, resource limits, auditing and all security features of Darwin/OS X.
• Apple's daemons have man pages, and third parties are duty-bound to provide the same. Admins also expect to be able to run daemons, with verbose reporting, in a shell for testing.
• OS X Man pages document daemons' file dependencies, so administrators can easily rework file permissions to match daemons' reduced privileges.
• Launchd can tripwire directories so that if they're altered unexpectedly, launchd triggers a response.
• If an attacker takes over a local or remote console, any effort to install software or alter significant system settings cannot proceed without entering the administrator's user name and password, even if the console is already logged in as a privileged user. In other words, even having privileges doesn't ensure that even an inside hacker can arrange to keep them.
• OS X has a single console and a single system log, both in plain text.
• OS X's nearest equivalent to the Registry is Netinfo, but this requires authentication for modification. In later releases of OS X, it is fairly sparse.
• Applications have their own per-user and system-wide properties files, private Registries if you like, stored in human-readable files in standard locations.
• Every installed file is traceable to a bill of materials that can verify that the file is meant to exist, and that it and all of its dependencies match their original checksums. Mac users, back up and protect your Receipts folder!
• The directories used to hold OS X's privileged system executables are sacred. Anything new that pops up there is immediately suspect.
• OS X does not require that a user be logged in as an administrator to install software. The user or someone aiding the install needs to know the name and password of a local administrative user to complete the install. On a network, most software is installed using Remote Desktop, an inexpensive Systems Management Server-like console.
• The UNIX/POSIX API, standard command-line tools and open source tools leave malware unable to hide from a competent OS X administrator. It takes a new UNIX programmer longer to choose an editor than it does to write a console app that walks the process tree listing privileged processes. Finding the owners of open TCP/UDP ports or open files is similarly trivial. The "system" is not opaque.
• Basic OS X features can be put to use to make life miserable for malware. For example, Windows' hackable restore points are done better by OS X's ability to create encrypted, read-only disk images. They're simpler than archives, and you can mount them as volumes anywhere in your file hierarchy.
• Likewise, OS X Server will image any Mac client or server's local drives and maintain safe copies that can be used not only for restoration, but which can be booted from to guarantee that there's no trace of infection.
• When erase-and-reinstall is the only way to be sure, OS X Server automates it. It can safely capture the affected Mac's active drives before having that Mac boot from the fresh install image.
So, after all this, do I have enough to judge Windows inherently more vulnerable to severe malware than OS X? I do.
I've been writing about these shortcomings for years, and it always traces back to Microsoft's untenable policy of maintaining gaps in Windows security to avoid competing with 3rd party vendors and certified partners. Apple's taking a different approach: What users need is in the box: Anti-virus, anti-spam, encryption, image backup and restore, offsite safe storage through .Mac, and launchd. Pretty soon any debate with Microsoft over security can be ended in one round when Apple stands up, says "launchd," and sits back down.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
LCD vs Plasma.
I am not going to debate the below with fan boys of either camp, this is just a review of the latest technology based on a 2 year review of all the current technology and brands available.
Remember this is not blanket statement like.. Plasma is better than LCD debate, its all what you want it for, what you want to plug into it etc... some technologies and brands are better suited than others...., where it is in your house, the lighting conditions etc.. and thus not one size fits all, and the answer isn't simple..it all depends on your functionality you want will dictate what to buy.... so to put it a little more in perspective here is a good unbiased review ...
LCD TV vs. Plasma the gap is too close to call.
Despite their similarities, the two technologies are very different in the way they deliver the image to the viewer.
CONTRAST / BLACK LEVELS
Plasma technology has certainly achieved quite high contrast ratios, a measure of the blackest black compared to the whitest white. Many plasma display manufacturers boast a contrast ratio of 3000:1 these days though our tests have not proven these numbers out. Panasonic has long been the leader in plasma black levels and we measure contrast of a 42" HD Panasonic plasma at about ANSI 1450:1 - still impressive. Plasma displays achieve such impressive black levels by using internal algorithms to block the power to particular pixels in order to render a pixel "dark" or black. While this can limit a plasma television's gray scaling, it does produce exceptionally black blacks - depending on the manufactured plasma display element (i.e. glass). A plasma TV uses the most power when it is producing full white. As a result, some 2nd tier manufactured brands of plasma TVs have an audible buzz or whining sound when displaying white or very light images.
LCD (liquid crystal diode) displays, by contrast, utilize electric charges to twist and untwist liquid crystals, which causes them to block light and, hence, emit blacks. The higher the voltage passing through the liquid crystals in a given pixel, the more fully those crystals untwist and effectively block light - all of which makes these pixels darker. As opposed to plasma, LCD TVs use the most power when displaying a very dark or black image. This is a difficult process, and despite recent improvements in LCD black levels, only the best LCD televisions (like those produced by Sharp and Sony) have managed to topple the 1500:1 contrast ratio barrier. Recent improvements have brought LCD displays up to the level of plasma.
ADVANTAGE: Closer than a year ago,too close to call. LCD TV manufacturers have made great improvements in black levels and in many cases have managed to match the contrast ratio of plasma displays. However, some Plasma displays still maintain a slight advantage in this category due to fading blacks when viewing LCDs from off axis. For scenes with a lot of dark and light images shown simultaneously - as with content originating from DVDs, video games, and NTSC TV signals - plasmas can outperform LCD TVs. But both Sony and Sharp have improved their black levels at 178 degree viewing off axis to the same as Plasma's.
In plasma displays, each pixel contains red, green, and blue elements, which work in conjunction to create 16.77 million colors. Insofar as each pixel contains all the elements needed to produce every color in the spectrum, color information was more accurately reproduced with plasma technology than it was with other display technologies. The chromaticity coordinates were more accurate on most plasma displays. Though the color saturation resulting from the pixel design of plasma displays is remarkable, LCD technology has now caught plasma in gray scaling color accuracy.
LCD TVs reproduce colors by manipulating light waves and subtracting colors from white light. This is an inherently difficult template for maintaining color accuracy and vibrancy - though most LCD displays manage quite well. While color information benefits from the higher-than-average number of pixels per square inch found in LCD televisions (especially when compared to plasmas). LCDs produce a typically brighter picture. Greens sometimes look over-green and reds can run a bit warm, but in a room with bright outdoor lighting, an LCD TV would be my choice.
ADVANTAGE: Preference to plasma but depends upon room light, manufacturer and model. Plasma color richness and naturalness will prevail in rooms with lower to normal lighting. LCDs will be better in very brightly lit rooms due to their inherent anti glare technology and brightness.
Plasma manufacturers have made much of their 160° viewing angles, which is about as good as horizontal and vertical viewing angles get. This owes to the fact that each pixel produces its own light, rather than light being spread across the screen from one central source. Hence, each pixel is more readily visible because its brightness is consistent with every other pixel on the screen. One consistent area of superiority of plasma viewing angles is demonstrated when viewing dark material content, especially DVDs. A Plasma display holds the black levels from off axis, while LCD TVs lose black level intensity more as the angle off axis increases. This usually occurs after around 90 degrees, ( on low end cheap models).
LCD TV manufacturers have done much to improve their displays' viewing angles. The substrate material on newer-generation LCD models by Sharp and Sony has helped to expand those units' viewing angles. Expect the best LCD HDTVs to have between 160 and 178 degree viewing angles.
ADVANTAGE: Plasma by a hairs breath.
LCD flat screens display static images from computer or VGA sources extremely well, with full color detail, no flicker, and no screen burn-in. Moreover, the number of pixels per square inch on an LCD display is typically higher than other display technologies, so LCD monitors are especially good at displaying large amounts of data - like you would find on an Excel spreadsheet for example - with exceptional clarity and precision. For the same reasons, LCD TVs will also be a slightly better template for video gaming.
Plasma technology has increased anti burn in tactics as well as computer and static signal handling. There are still issues with each depending very much on the model and manufacturer. For example, most EDTV plasma displays do not handle a computer input well and product a very jaggy image when viewing static images from same. Users may want to consider a commercial version plasma if their application calls for a lot of computer use.
FAST-MOVING VIDEO PLAYBACK
Plasma gets the nod here because of their excellent performance with fast-moving images and high contrast levels. There are still some 2nd tier manufacturers whose plasma product displays some phosphor lag, a drag time in scenes changing from bright to dark.
While the "response time" of LCD TVs has markedly improved in the last couple of years, they still suffer from a slight "trailer" effect in low end models, where the individual pixels are just slightly out of step with the image on the screen. During fast moving sports scenes, the most discerning eyes can detect this slight motion response lag. However in the higher end of the spectrum of LCD TV's, typically the Sony's and the Samsung's, all our tests couldn't find any difference between the LCD's and the Plasma's in this regard
ADVANTAGE: Depends on model you choose. Plasma and LCD was no difference in higher end models.
There is a reason LCD flat panels are the preferred visual display units for use on airplanes: LCD TVs aren't affected by increases or decreases in air pressure. Their performance is consistent regardless of the altitude at which they're utilized.
This is not the case for a plasma. The display element in plasma TVs is actually a glass substrate envelope with rare natural gases compressed therein. So, at high altitudes (6,500 feet and above), an air-pressure differential emerges, which causes plasma displays to emit a buzzing sound due to the lower air pressure. This noise can sound rather like the humming of an old neon sign. NEC has been effective in producing several plasma models that are rated to 9,500 feet.
ADVANTAGE: LCD, at 6,500 feet and higher.
LCD television manufacturers claim that their displays last, on average, 50,000 to 65,000 hours. In fact, an LCD TV will last as long as its backlight does - and those bulbs can sometimes be replaced! Since this is nothing more than light passing through a prismatic substrate, there is essentially nothing to wear out in an LCD monitor. However, one nasty little known fact about LCD technology is that as the backlight ages it can change colors slightly (think of florescent office lighting). When this occurs the white balance of the entire LCD TV will be thrown for a loop and the user will need to re-calibrate, or worse, try to replace the backlighting or ditch the unit altogether. Some of the early purchasers of larger LCD screens will be learning this tidbit in a couple of years. One thing that I've found in this industry, it is not easy to find out whether the backlighting on LCDs can be replaced. Manufacturers are either hesitant to discuss the topic, or they just don't know.
Plasma, on the other hand, utilizes slight electric currents to excite a combination of noble gases (i.e., argon, neon, xenon), which glow red, blue, and/or green. This is an essentially active phenomenon, so the phosphoric elements in plasma displays fade over time. Many manufacturers state a new half life of 60,000 hours. While I am skeptical of this spec, I do believe strides have been made to nearly even the playing field with LCD. At half life, the phosphors in a plasma screen will glow half as brightly as they did when the set was new. There is no way to replace these gases; the display simply continues to grow dimmer with use.
ADVANTAGE: Even, depending upon manufacturer quality.
SCREEN BURN IN
LCD technology is not prone to screen "burn-in" or "ghosting" (premature aging of pixel cells) due to the nature of the technologies "twisting crystals."
With plasma, static images will begin to "burn-in," or permanently etch the color being displayed into the glass display element. The time it takes for this to occur depends greatly on the anti burn-in technology of the manufacturer. Recent improvements by plasma manufacturers have certainly extended the time it takes to burn in a plasma pixel cell. In the past I was concerned to place a DVD on pause 15 minutes. Now, many of the enhancements such as better green phosphor material, and motion adaptive anti burn-in technology are greatly reducing the risk of burn in. It's gotten so much better that I don't even worry about it anymore. In a new model plasma from any top tier manufacturer I would put "ghosting" estimates at an hour or more now (Ghosting can be "washed" out by displaying static gray material). Permanent burn-in I would put at more than 10 hours.
ADVANTAGE: LCD, though not as much a concern as it was a year ago.
PRODUCTION SIZE AND COST
All television measurements are stated in inches and are for diagonal measurement of the screen from corner to corner - not including framing.
Both plasma and LCD TVs are becoming more readily available in larger sizes though plasma still leads the size battle by a great margin. Pioneer and LG produce 61" plasma sizes while Panasonic has a readily available 65" model. Though it is not being imported into the U.S. yet, Samsung has produced a gigantic plasma of 100 inches. Though such mammoth monitors are expensive, they exhibit none of the "kinks" one might expect with such large displays. In other words, even the largest plasma displays are reliable. Large plasma displays will consume power - try 675 watts for a 65 "display compared to around 330 watts for a 42" plasma.
The substrate material for LCD TVs has proved difficult to produce in large sizes without pixel defects owing to faulty transistors. Sharp produces one of the largest available LCD displays at 45 inches, while Samsung has a 46" LCD. Sony and NEC currently produce units measuring 40" diagonally. This will change very soon. These manufacturers will have very large LCD screens here this year if production goes as planned.
ADVANTAGE: Plasma, though the playing field is leveling. Even though production costs and retail prices have come down for both technologies, plasma still has the edge as far as production cost and capacity go.
Because LCDs use florescent backlighting to produce images, they require substantially less power to operate than plasmas do. LCD TVs consume about half the power that plasma displays consume. The reason: Plasmas use a lot of electricity to light each and every pixel you see on a screen - even the dark ones. Though plasma manufacturers have improved voltage consumption requirements a plasma TV will consume around a third more power for the same size display.
PRICE AND RESOLUTION
LCD HDTV displays will have a higher resolution per same size comparison than plasma. The lowest resolution of a 40 inch LCD will be 1366 X 768 - easily full HD resolution in 1080i or 720p. A 42 inch HD plasma has a resolution of 1024 X 768. While this is not truly an HD resolution, it's close enough so that it's difficult to know the difference. A 50 inch plasma TV will have a resolution of 1366 X 768, while a 45 inch LCD displays 1920 X 1080 (1080P) resolution.
Those extra pixels and the production process of LCD HDTVs cost more money to produce. Expect to pay a third as much more for a similar size LCD TV than a plasma display.
ADVANTAGE: It's currently a toss-up.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Friday, March 17, 2006
Monday, March 06, 2006
I had a fun experience on the weekend... (NOT!)... I was waiting for my friend at an Big Department store that sold macs (NOT A APPLE STORE)... while waiting, I heard the sales man preach on to poor dumb customer, that Intel macs were no good, and nothing runs on them, and this is why you should by these two g4 powerbook 15inch's for your self and your daughter to run word and surf the net! When sleazy salesman went to get even more ripp off accessories, I had a quite word with the guy, pointing out you are being lied to, and salesman is trying to rip you off, and get rid of old stock, and you should really be getting the Mac book pro, as he is charging you the same price for them anyway! When customer asked sales man (after he returned) why he wasn't selling him a Mac Book Pro (Intel)... he said same old line... oh nothing runs on them (and he didn't have any in stock), they don't work right etc etc.... and you should just buy these two laptops (at 7 grand!).
The customer said " I think I will leave it thanks", the sale dude looked at me and said "what did you say to my customer", "if you don't like what I say LEAVE!", at this time I saw red, and told the sales dude STOP lying to the customer, and telling him half truths, and ripping him off, at this time the salesman let fly a hurl of abuse to me, and anyone else.... by this time the customer, just said.. forget it mate... I not buying anything from you... and walked out.. and thanked me as he walked by! I so HATE sleazy salesman!!!! I think the guy walked out to find a REAL Apple store!
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
You might be wondering why there havnt been any updates for a while.. well not long after the picture of the Quad was taken, suddenly the Quad didnt want to power on anymore.. thinking a hardware problem, the Quad went back to Apple... no problems found after 3 days of testing... so I took it all home.. no problems there either for two days.... took it back to work.. no go!! get the power company out to work... bad harmonics in the power they say.. so I have been waiting 4 weeks for the power company to supply me with a UPS and a re-wire of all power back to switch board to try and resolve the problem! argh!
So till then the lovley quad sits in a corner, collecting dust, while I wait for the power compnay to fix the power problem!
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
The fabulous SciFi Channel remake of the 1980's classic Battlestar Galactica, starring Edward James Olmos has been picked by Time Magazine as the best television program of 2005.
For the fans of the dark and gritty series this comes as no surprise, but it certainly caught everyone else off-guard.
Why has this one program on a highly genre focused cable network won over the hearts and minds of the general viewing public? Simple math. Add a great writing staff and behind the camera crew, with an immeasurably talented ensemble cast headed up by the award winning Olmos, gripping stories each and every week with heart-stopping special effects and how could you miss?
Congratulations BSG it is a well deserved accolade.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
ok here is my spin.....The smart money will wait out the standards war before buying a high-definition DVD player.
If you were lucky enough to get a fancy HDTV set, you're probably eager for a high-definition DVD player to go with it. Note that the SONY 40" V SERIES BRAVIA LCD TV , is one of the very few TV's in Australia that can support true HD with a native Display Resolution: 1366 x 768, and it was only released late last year in November 2005.
But remember the Betamax! Consumer electronics is an industry notorious for rapid change and 2006 is already shaping up as a particularly disruptive year. Some of the changes will be incremental -- new phone features, lower prices for TVs -- but a standards war in DVD players and recorders has the potential to render some of the first players obsolete. Not only that, these new players have digital rights management (DRM) features that make Darth Vader look tame, more on DRM later.
Today's DVD players and recorders are based on red lasers, which read and write millions of little digital data pits on those shiny DVD discs. But the sun is setting on red-laser DVDs, because the relatively long wavelength of the red laser limits the capacity of a standard-size DVD disc, just as the world is making the transition to high-definition movies and television.
Blue lasers have a shorter wavelength, and thus can read and write much more data on the same-size DVD disc -- nearly 50 gigabytes on one type of double-layer blue-laser disc, more than enough for playing back a high-def movie or recording two or more hours of a high-def TV show.
Don't be a casualty of the standards war
Pioneer just announced that it will start selling blue-laser DVD drives for computers in Japan in just a few weeks, and in the United States by summer, making it the first to offer mass-market HD-capable DVD players and recorders to the public. Most of the major movie studios have promised to
have a selection of high-definition DVD movies available when the new drives arrive.
It will take many years for blue-laser DVDs to completely replace red-laser DVDs at your local Blockbuster, but as the world inexorably moves toward a high-definition future, red laser players are headed for obsolescence or so they would like you to believe.
The big problem is that two rival camps are competing to set the standards for blue-laser DVDs, and, just like earlier format wars -- Betamax versus VHS, Windows versus Mac, XM versus Sirius satellite radio, et cetera -- the two formats, known as Blu-ray and HD DVD, are incompatible.
A majority of major movie studios and many of the world's leading consumer electronics companies are backing the Blu-ray camp, led by Sony. The new Pioneer computer drives are based on the Blu-ray format.
Toshiba and NEC are leading the charge for the HD DVD format, and its backers include Warner Bros., HBO and New Line (like FORTUNE and CNNMoney, all divisions of Time Warner), as well as the dynamic PC duo of Microsoft and Intel.
A number of consumer electronics, computer and entertainment companies are supporting both formats for now, hedging their bets until a clear winner emerges.
The oddsmakers favour Blu-ray, in part because Blu-ray appears to have superior technical specifications and now has a head start over HD DVD in the race to market.
Blu-ray has a greater theoretical capacity than HD DVD (50GB versus 30GB for double-layer discs, as against 9GB for current red-laser DVDs), and Sony has said it will include a Blu-ray DVD drive in its forthcoming PlayStation 3> entertainment console, which, if the PS3 is as successful as the PS2, could
populate the world with millions of Blu-ray DVD players and sway any holdout movie studios to the format.
On the other hand, HD DVD supporters say their format makes it easier and cheaper to manufacture drives that are compatible with previous DVD and CD formats, lessening the cost and disruption of moving to a new HD format.
That's particularly important in the cut-throat PC business, and one reason Microsoft, Intel and HP have aligned with the HD DVD camp. (Apple and Dell, the world's largest PC maker, appear solidly in the Blu-ray camp.)
Microsoft is building HD DVD support into its next-generation version of Windows, called Vista, and presumably it wants HD DVD drives to be available for computers when Vista rolls out later this year. We can expect to see HD DVD players and recorders for home entertainment systems appear in stores
and in PCs in 2006, although the timing is unclear at this writing.
Now for the real issue of DRM. All these players have a specification for being online 24/7, that's right, they must have a Internet connection in order for them to even operate. So no net, no play. Every time you put in a disc, the player calls home and checks if its valid. What happens if you put in a non valid disc? Your player shuts down.. And you will have trust Sony or whoever to unlock it for it. Not only that it can be any non valid content (you home movie of your Xmas holiday). It gets better not only will your player shut down, the player will also send commands to anything it can control to shut that down too.. TV, stereo, hard drives... Whatever it can talk to. And we are to trust SONY to unlock it all for us? I think not.
I can see the consumer backlash on this feature alone will be enough to shut down the whole HD blue ray DVD war before it even begins.
The wildcard in all this is China. China has outlawed the use of any of the HD proprietary devices from Sony, Toshiba etc and, and come up with its own HD DVD standard based upon open standards, and based upon red laser technology using a superior CODEC chip to ones used today. In theory this could be used in any standard DVD player today with a chip swap out.
The bottom line
If you're not a big movie buff, and are happy with the quality of current prerecorded DVD movies, and if current generations of CD and DVD are sufficient for your backup and data transfer needs, sit tight.
The first blue-laser drives are certain to be expensive. Early adopters can expect to pay $1,000 or more for player-recorders, just as they did when red-laser DVD players were new. But today, basic DVD players are selling for as little as $30.
And lets not forget that less than 10,000 people in Australia are even capable of watching HD, as less than 10,000 TRUE HD TV sets have been sold in this country. Sales of True HD sets will pick up this year, industry is expecting every 1 in 25 sets sold this year will be true HD sets. Still this will not be a huge number of HD capable sets by the end of this year.
I seriously think the whole movement of little discs for video and data is rapidly approaching obsolescence. I'm betting on high-definition video-on-demand services, 100-megabit Internet pipelines and terabyte-size home media servers to make physical DVD players largely irrelevant within a decade, yes even in Australia, as wi fi services make a large presence in the next 5-10 years, with speeds over 100MB's via the airwaves.
One only has to look at the Apple business model of the distribution of audio and now video via its itunes store to realise the end of the local video store is near.
So sit back people and watch the rich elite buy stuff that will look like quadraphonic stereo sets ( a competitor to stereo in the mid 1970's that never went anywhere) by the end of the year.
2006 looks a year to sort the HD DVD industry out once and for all.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Gary Jones, president and CEO of eMagin Corp. of Bellevue, demonstrates his company's new wearable display for video iPods. Using the EyeBud headset is akin to watching a 105-inch display from 12 feet away. "Suddenly you've got this big-screen, movie-screen, home-theater experience wherever you are," he says. I say you look like a Borg, no longer will people be tuned OUT from sounds of their surroundings now they will walk in to you, saying "sorry, I was watching porn, didnt see you there". Next I guess there will be the brain interface, so instead of people looking like they are borg clones, they will look like the just smoked a large joint, when really they are just watching last nights lost on their ipod plugged into their brain (ala matrix style).
Sunday, January 01, 2006
HAPPY NEW YEAR, and Welcome to 2006! I thought of no better way to start the year than to start with a rant! I hope your new year is filled with less PowerPoint, why? You may ask?...if you sat through as many senseless, boaring, and death by PowerPoint sessions you wil understand.
Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that promised to make us beautiful but didn't. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: It induced stupidity, turned everyone into bores, wasted time, and degraded the quality and credibility of communication. These side effects would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall.
Yet slideware -computer programs for presentations -is everywhere: in corporate Western World, in government bureaucracies, even in our schools. Several hundred million copies of Microsoft PowerPoint are churning out trillions of slides each year. Slideware may help speakers outline their talks, but convenience for the speaker can be punishing to both content and audience. The standard PowerPoint presentation elevates format over content, betraying an attitude of commercialism that turns everything into a sales pitch.
Of course, data-driven meetings are nothing new. Years before today's slideware, presentations at companies such as IBM and in the military used bullet lists shown by overhead projectors. But the format has become ubiquitous under PowerPoint, which was created in 1984 and later acquired by Microsoft. PowerPoint's pushy style seeks to set up a speaker's dominance over the audience. The speaker, after all, is making power points with bullets to followers. Could any metaphor be worse? Voicemail menu systems? Billboards? Television? Stalin?
articularly disturbing is the adoption of the PowerPoint cognitive style in our schools. Rather than learning to write a report using sentences, children are being taught how to formulate client pitches and infomercials. Primary school PowerPoint exercises (as seen in teacher guides and in student work posted on the Internet) typically consist of 10 to 20 words and a piece of clip art on each slide in a presentation of three to six slides -a total of perhaps 80 words (15 seconds of silent reading) for a week of work. Students would be better off if the schools simply closed down on those days and everyone went to the Exploratorium or wrote an illustrated essay explaining something.
In a business setting, a PowerPoint slide typically shows 40 words, which is about eight seconds' worth of silent reading material. With so little information per slide, many, many slides are needed. Audiences consequently endure a relentless sequentiality, one damn slide after another. When information is stacked in time, it is difficult to understand context and evaluate relationships. Visual reasoning usually works more effectively when relevant information is shown side by side. Often, the more intense the detail, the greater the clarity and understanding. This is especially so for statistical data, where the fundamental analytical act is to make comparisons.
Consider an important and intriguing table of survival rates for those with cancer relative to those without cancer for the same time period. Some 196 numbers and 57 words describe survival rates and their standard errors for 24 cancers.
Applying the PowerPoint templates to this nice, straightforward table yields an analytical disaster. The data explodes into six separate chaotic slides, consuming 2.9 times the area of the table. Everything is wrong with these smarmy, incoherent graphs: the encoded legends, the meaningless color, the logo-type branding. They are uncomparative, indifferent to content and evidence, and so data-starved as to be almost pointless. Chartjunk is a clear sign of statistical stupidity. Poking a finger into the eye of thought, these data graphics would turn into a nasty travesty if used for a serious purpose, such as helping cancer patients assess their survival chances. To sell a product that messes up data with such systematic intensity, Microsoft abandons any pretense of statistical integrity and reasoning.
Presentations largely stand or fall on the quality, relevance, and integrity of the content. If your numbers are boring, then you've got the wrong numbers. If your words or images are not on point, making them dance in color won't make them relevant. Audience boredom is usually a content failure, not a decoration failure.
At a minimum, a presentation format should do no harm. Yet the PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. Thus PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play -very loud, very slow, and very simple.
The practical conclusions are clear. PowerPoint is a competent slide manager and projector. But rather than supplementing a presentation, it has become a substitute for it. Such misuse ignores the most important rule of speaking: Respect your audience.