Thursday, November 29, 2007

About Brightcove Internet TV Service

About Brightcove Internet TV Service Good overview, even if it is a bit pro Brightcove.

As we come to the end of 2007, it’s time to reflect on the forces that shaped the Internet TV industry during the last year and the trends that will define it in 2008.

Internet video surged into the mainstream in 2006 with the explosive growth of consumer video sharing sites. The leader in the category, YouTube, became a household name, and everyone watched in awe as they were swallowed by Google for $1.65 billion.

But 2007 showed us that video isn’t just for aggregators—it’s fundamental to the Web. The last 12 months saw an explosion in video publishing across a wide array of websites. Video is becoming so pervasive that if you have a web property without video something is wrong with it.

The deep investment in online video publishing and distribution by media companies in 2007 brought a new category of online services into the limelight: Internet TV Platforms.

Internet TV Platforms, like Brightcove, give media owners the ability to control how video is published on their own sites and syndicated across the Internet. Rather than existing at a single destination, Internet TV Platforms underlie thousands of properties and brands creating economies of scale in technology, delivery and distribution.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Classical Youtube

The Classical music world is filled with the most horrendous copyright problems. And egos - you don't want to know. I guess that a huge number of recordings sitting in broadcasters' vaults are unusable - not because the tape has expired, but that the recording was made on the basis of a single broadcast and an "expiry" date for repeats. So it is interesting to see videos of quite a few classical music performances appearing on Youtube. The audio is far from perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. Digital recordings in the last 10 years have a problem - they don't deteriorate. So record companies are loathed to re-record works just for the sake of a slightly different interpretation. And unless public archives, paid for by the taxpayer, have the rights to use what they keep, they might as well throw the recording away. How about national erasure day to free up shelf space for artists who are proud and pleased that past performances will be used again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Netflix Million Dollar Prize

I see that the Netflix prize which seeks to substantially improve the accuracy of predictions is doing well. Improve it enough and you win one (or more) Prizes. Winning the Netflix Prize improves their "ability to connect people to the movies they love" There are currently 28914 contestants on 23593 teams from 165 different countries. They have received 19774 valid submissions from 2710 different teams; 67 submissions in the last 24 hours. So you are not alone.

Roll on February 2008

I see TV B Gone is going for the biggie. Super High Power infrared fun starts in February.


A Tengu is a character from Japanese folklore that plays tricks on people and generally gets up to mischief. The name has now ben chosen by the UK designer Crispin Jones, who explains, "The early prototypes of Tengu featured some slightly different behaviour which was more aligned with the kind of tricks that Tengus get up to. Later we changed the behaviour of the character, but we really liked the name so it stuck! We plan to introduce some of the more mischevious behaviours into future Tengu characters" So what is Tengu?

It is a USB-powered character that lights up and lip-syncs to music, or your voice, or whatever noise happens to be around at the time. Tengu has different facial expressions that you can match to different music. When there's no sound he'll simply fall asleep, as soon as he detects some noise he'll wake up again.

Can you live without Tengu? Of course.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Great News

Consistently the best calendars since Radio Peking sent them out in the 1980's. These are a lot funnier as well. Even has a customer dissatisfaction service. And now a blog.

Google Image Labeler

Google Image Labeler
Clever way Google is now pairing volunteers on line to get them to tag photos. Its a game where you can win points...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dualog - The Maritime Communications Experts - Future Ready?

Dualog - The Maritime Communications Experts - Future Ready?

4th generation maritime communications. Ships and trucks have always been a challenge for broadcasters. Wonder what technology is going to win for them.

Brilliant AD - Part 2

Brilliant AD - Part 2
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
The other side of the Ad. Things make sense with the bigger picture

Brilliant AD in Buenos Aires

so what it happening? Someone going to jump? Why are the cars parked on one side, not on the other?

Precious Things - British Museum

Amazing to think that many of these pots are more than 2000 years old. I wonder how long my ipod will last?

Hyde Park Satellite Dish

Hyde Park Satellite Dish
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks
Is that a shield he has in his hand, or the uplink dish for Al Jazeera English over the road?

LCD Advertising in the Tube

I see some of the tube stations in London (like Bank) are putting LCD screens for some rather spectacular advertising effects. Reminds me of a football stadium. Wonder if it will ever do news headlines like in Prague's underground.

Italian Ice Cream at Harrods

I like the mint ice cream. Vanilla and Strawberry rather unspectacular for the price - £7.50 pounds please. Once in a lifetime Morelli’s Gelato counter in the food hall in Harrods which, it would seem, has a head waiter and, is now offering a bespoke service. Phone in your order 24 hours in advance and they will custom-make whatever flavour you like, with a minimum order of 1 litre. The service costs £12.45 plus cost of ingredients. Ice Cream in Buenos Aires (chains like Freddo) is much better in my experience.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Crash at Schiphol

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Always wonder why they do maintenance on live screens like this. Makes you hope they have back-ups on the planes.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Cleansing Hotline

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What on earth is the cleansing hotline? May be conversations from it would make a great radio programme.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Al Jazeera English

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Paid a short visit to Al Jazeera English today on the way back to Heathrow. The main studio is in Qatar. The London bureau is in the basement (they call it Lower Ground Floor) of a large Arab bank in Knightsbridge. There is a great "little park" across the road (Hyde Park) and they must be the closest broadcaster in London to "Speakers' Corner". But not sure if I'd be happy working somewhere with no natural daylight -ever. Making some good shows out of that bank basement though.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

AIB Awards 2007

Enjoyed being part of the AIB Annual Awards Dinner in the city of London tonight, a celebration of the best programming to be found on the international radio and TV scene. Being one of the judges, it was great to see genuine surprise on the faces of some of the world's best broadcasters.
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Paul - Not at your service

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Paul is a chain of French sandwich shops of the grab and go variety. The one at the Tower of London is an example of one that provides a great service. The one below is at Schiphol airport in the D-gate wing and I now use it in talks as an example of the worst run cafe in the world. Their sandwiches are good. Their service is the slowest in the world in the one place where people usually have little time to spare. It takes an average of 5 minutes to buy a sandwich because the people making the coffee are also trying to do the checkout. Customers can't grab a sandwich - no you have to ask someone to make it for you. In short, Schiphol should give the franchise to someone else.

Kindle to Kill the Irex?

We have been waiting to see what Amazon’s new Kindle reader would look like. Now its for sale. It turns out it is made in China, but I believe it uses the same e-ink technology developed in Holland by Irex technologies, a start-up offshoot from Philips. The Kindle is a wireless digital book with an e-ink display and in the US it has a $399 price tag. That's 2/3rd the price of what Irex itself is offering with its Iliad reader. So will Kindle kill Irex? Having seen both devices now, I don't think Kindle is a threat to Irex. The Irex Iliad is better made device. That said, I don't think we have yet entered an era where e-ink is ready for prime-time. All these readers (especially Sony' attempt) seem to lack clever search functionality and the kind of user navigation you can now already enjoy on the iPhone or iPod Touch.

So far on the Amazon Kindle, 8 newspapers are available for digital subscription ranging from $5.99 to $14.99 a month. You can also subscribe to magazines like TIME and Fortune. Over 300 blogs are available, too — you need to pay a ludicrous 0.99 a month for each you read. The e-ink technology is GREAT for reading books. It is truly terrible for surfing the web (MUCH TOOOOO SLOW) or showing video - remember it is black and white. The browser on the Kindle takes about 50 seconds to load - so that immediately means it is not a serious device for surfing. In fact it is better to think of e-ink as a printer, not a video screen technology.

Full acknowledgement needed here to Engadget who broke the story last year and had access to photos which turn out to be pretty near what the commercial model looks like. For the money, I think the device has a very cheap look and feel to me....not in the "i-Reader" line of products. Not much expense has been spared on the design.

Seth Godin posted some relevant comments today which I totally agree with. The Amazon business model here is flawed. If they offered a Kindle with free access to all the electronic versions of paper booked you have purchased through Amazon in the past, that might be a useful enticement to travellers. Paper is very heavy and I, for one, would prefer to read from e-ink if the navigation were better. The Irex has the best screen for me so far, but I still think the product is a huge work in progress. Books look fine. PDF documents are VERY diffucult to navigate.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Satellite Channels are always open

Katie Couric has a go at Dan Rather. This sort of rehearsal always gets out. It used to end up in engineers' collections. Now its there on You-tube.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Panasonic Anti-Commercial Schiphol

Just arrived home after a long trip across the Atlantic. Got here before my luggage it would seem. Outside the arrivals hall, I am waiting for the bus to the long-stay car park. A large advertising screen glares at me from the other side of the road. Sort of..

Now if, like Panasonic, you make LED screens for large outdoor displays, wouldn't you monitor that things are looking good with the display? The only large screen display outside the arrivals hall at Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport has gone wrong, with parts of screen not working or showing a single colour. The problem is so noticeable that the ads for some products (including a new Panasonic camera) are infact unwatchable. If I were Panasonic, I'd switch it off rather than let this thing advertise Megapixel failure. It is any HDTV owners worst nightmare.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blimey, that's complicated

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I know the Dutch media scene is difficult to explain to foreigners. But then you haven't seen this ownership map of the Argentine media scene, produced by the University of La Plata. They are working on an update I am told.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Printing Error


One advantage of being able to sit down and check out the books is that you're able to spot any printing errors. This copy had more white space than was bargained for.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid - Books with a Radio Past


Jose Zepeda, who heads Radio Netherlands Worldwide Latin American service, took us to perhaps the most impressive bookshop in the world. El Ateneo Grand Splendid is one of the most well-known bookshops in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is located at 1860 Santa Fe Avenue in the Barrio Norte part of town. We walked there from the hotel, although it turned out to be a bit longer than the 8-9 blocks that we were promised. But the sight was well worth the walk. The building was originally constructed in 1919 by the empresario Max Glücksman as a theatre named Teatro Gran Splendid. When it was a theatre, it had a seating capacity of 1050 and staged a variety of performances including appearances by the tango artists Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, Roberto Firpo and Ignacio Corsini. Wikipedia has an entry...

In 1924 Glücksman started his own radio station, Radio Splendid, which broadcast from the building where his recording company, Nacional Odeón, made some of the early recordings of the great tango singers of the day. In the late twenties the theatre was converted into a cinema and in 1929 showed the first films ever presented with sound.

In 2000 the building was renovated and converted into a book and music shop. The cinema seating was removed and in its place book shelves were installed.

Chairs are provided throughout the building, including the still-intact theatre boxes, where customers can dip into books before purchase, and there is now a café on the back of what was once the stage. The curtains and scene changing equipment are still there. The original painted ceiling, ornate carvings, auditorium lighting and many architectural details remain. What a great place for a coffee and a read. In fact, you can read all you like without people bothering you.

Saturated Argentine TV Market?

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I have never seen so many different microphones from competing networks in a single country. And yes, flicking from one channel to the next had almost the same picture.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grand Tour of RNA

Got the complete tour of Argentina's national radio station today. This is my second visit - came in 1999 and interviewed people in the English service of Radio Argentina Al Exterior, the overseas service. This time I talked with the people running the various domestic networks. This state network is moving more into the direction of public broadcasting, with far more talk shows and interactivity than was the case last time I came. Studios have mothballed the tape decks and record players, now everything comes off the computer using a software package called Hardata that has been made in Argentina (I see most stations using it). Cost is around 870 US dollars per work-station, considerably less than the European variants.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Flying visit to LR 11, oldest university station in the world

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Just had an amazing trip to take part in a congress organised by the community media organisation ALER at the University of La Plata, around 56 km south of Buenos Aires. La Plata is also a beautiful city. Took an hour out of the schedule for a trip in the oldest taxi in the world (or it seemed that way) to visit the oldest university radio station in the world, which is LR11 in La Plata. The station director showed me a collection of material they broadcast regularly from Radio Netherlands Worldwide and how they make great shows for students in historic surroundings.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Compartiendo in Quilmes

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I went outside Buenos Aires today, about 45 minutes South on the motorway to La Plata is a town called Quilmes. After some wrong turns we arrived at a great community radio station which serves the poorer areas of the town. They encourage kids to participate, offer all kinds of social services such as creche and Internet access plus a range of activities to keep in conversation with their audience. I was very impressed by what they were doing on a shoestring budget.