Category Archives: Technology

SOPA and PIPA Alternatives

SOPA and PIPA seek to prevent and punish piracy thru law and technical obstruction. Piracy, is wrong, most of us have pirated something in our time, even if it was copying a friends cassette or cd so you could have a copy of an album your mate owns, in our hearts we all know we’re being a little bit naughty when we do it.

Here’s the thing, the music and film industry don’t care too much if you are recording a film off TV at home that they own the rights too, or record a copy of a song off the radio. It’s small scale, it’s not really affecting their bottom line.
They care when it starts to make their fat wallets thinner and makes them look inaffective at protecting their intellectual properly.

However the gist of it is that as long as the amount of legal plays/buys of a song/movie Vs the amount of pirated copies of a song or movie is in their favour and keeps their wallets fat they won’t really give a rats arse.

So why not embrace the new digital landscape, why not make music and movies so easy to get and reasonably priced that piracy seems like idiocy?
Since buying a Spotify premium account subscription I’ve been lovingly listening to more new albums than I ever did before. I’ve been able to share these tracks via Spotify to friends and colleagues, and instead of a radio playing in the office now we have Spotify playing with a collaborative playlist that we all add tracks to. We have our own, very eclectic, radio station thru Spotify and it’s exposing colleagues to new tracks continually.

With the recent launch of Netflix in the UK, I’ve watched films and tv series, old and new, much of which is shared on my Facebook timeline and I’ve recommended films, and Netflix to friends.

So why is the film and music industry trying to make it so hard for me to get a hold of the product that they want me to have. Just make it easy and cheap enough and we’ll take the deal.

The downside to this streaming, legitimate consumption of movies and music is that some labels and/or artists choose not to release their product this way, and some major labels release their latest products.
I look forward to watching Netflix deal grow in the UK so their provision grows, and I look forward to being able to get hold of the latest albums immediately on Spotify.
Why record, movie companies and artists feel the need to be so prohibitive and restrictive in this I don’t know. They seem to be scared of technology.

The message is simple, make the gatorade taste nice and we’ll gladly gulp it down.

Share

Tablet’s will not cure all that ails you

As I read the article Tablets Will Transform the Classroom [OPINION] I found myself getting increasingly frustrated at this article’s view on what Tablets like the iPad, Galaxy Tab, etc would bring to the classroom.

Scraping texts books is one thing, though I suggest that many publishers are still dragging there heels into this century, afraid that everyone will automatically pirate all books and their cash flow will disappear. Text books are heavy and dull, and largely in some ugly typeface that is hard on the eyes, so by all means makes them available as an ebook.
However  believes that tablet computers will enable teacher to facilitate teaching at different speeds/levels in a single class. I’m unclear how this magic would happen, unless the under paid teacher is likely to want to spend three times the amount of time working on class plans for three different levels that all tie in together at key points so that the teacher can orate on them.

I’m all for students learning at their own levels, I believe that it encourages great growth and keeps students interested in their studies, instead of waiting for everyone to catch up with you or feeling like you are never going to catch up to others.
But this is more an argument for virtual learning environment(online learning), and having the whole class plan/notes available and having students progress at a pace that is comfortable to them. In this case the teach becomes almost like a project manager, ensuring that the students stay on schedule for their milestones, but allowing students who are so inclined to zoom ahead.

This would also allow for some learning disabilities to be catered for, larger text for people with learning disabilities, colour schemes adjusted for accessibility, etc.

I do agree that this is an excellent opportunity for academia to get with the times, but in order to do that teachers/lecturers need to get up to speed, and be completely competent with the Operating System and Office applications at least.
Students need to emerge out of  secondary school completely familiar with computers and, perhaps more importantly, the ability to investigate and work out how to use a new applications or systems without having to be walked thru it.

The tablet is not a magic bullet, no bit of technology is really, but how people use technology and continue to do so is important, and the future of computing in the classroom depends on all parties involved investing themselves in the technology, not being afraid to work with it and to be creative in the ideas that they come up with for how the can get more use out of the technology in the classroom.

Share

Reverse Timesheeting

I’m lazy and forgetful, not in a bad way, but I don’t like to do more than I have to if I can simplify something and streamline it, and I have a bad memory for the more mundane things.

So when I was asked to keep a work log I cited some problems. I’ve no issue with keeping a work log or time sheeting but if I try ad start a timer at the start of a task, or make note of the time, when I remember I’ve already been doing some other task too and don’t know how long for.
And if I keep a sheet next to me or a text file to log what I’m working in I’ll forget to fill it out after a while so the data becomes useless.

So I figured there must be a way to passively capture that data, like maybe I could record my screen all day. The problem with that is it’s going to be a nightmare to scrub thru and take up loads of hard disk space.
I thought, what if I could just capture my screen every once in a while, a snapshot of what I was doing.

A quick check and sure enough Mac OS X has a screencapture command to do just that.

Here’s the script

picdate="whatIworkedOnAt-"$(date +%Y%m%d%H%M)".png"
outputdir="/Users/Mike/Documents/WorkCapture/WorkCapture-"$(date +%Y%m%d)
if [ -d $outputdir ]; then
/usr/sbin/screencapture -xS $outputdir/$picdate
else
mkdir -p $outputdir
/usr/sbin/screencapture -xS $outputdir/$picdate
fi

 

Share

The future of newspapers

Newspaper publishers are finally coming to terms with new media and trying to work out where there business model lies in this new landscape.

However it occurred to me that they’ve missed a very basic thing in the current transition to new media.
All newspapers that are currently working with charging models are all using a subscription based service.
As someone who had a few paper rounds in their youth I know that there are far more houses I’d cycle by than deliver too. I also don’t know anyone at work who get’s a regular paper on their way in.
I’ve been enjoying the Guardian’s iPhone app. I’d never read the guardian before but actually got some semi-regular use out of the app, particularly as I could just read those sections and contributor’s columns that I enjoyed. However now they’ve introduced a new app with a charging model. The price is very reasonable at £3 per month and comes with a few new features over the old app. However it’s still a subscription model. For occasional newspaper readers like myself and everyone I know at work a subscription isn’t what they are after.
And so I got to thinking how comes Newspaper publishers, who were so fearful of change, have moved to a model where you can’t replicate the real world activity of being able to buy just one news paper.
Even if this translates to paying a one off fee for a period of access those people who don’t want to sign up to a recurring subscription don’t seem to be being catered for and are a missed business opportunity.

I hope that Newspaper publishers redress this oversight and allow the occasional buyers access and themselves to get the extra revenue to realise new media is not a threat, it’s an opportunity.

Share

Rise up and make TV! Public Access Internet Channel

We’ve had the revolution of the Facebook masses getting Rage Against The Machine to number one instead of the latest corporate produced (s)hit from Simon Cowell. So how about the same for tv.
Now we don’t have a tv chart that we can influence so directly as we do with music, more’s the pity. But how about we rally together and start out own online tv station. I know some great script wrtiters and actors who do some very interesting projects, why not bring those to the masses and generate excitement about online?

With any luck the mass media will pay some attention and maybe start putting more challenging programming on. Or at the very least some of the amazing talent out there will get recognized and taken on.

Share

Semantic TV guides, the future of tv

I’ve been laid up lately with a broken leg and consequentially I’ve been watching a lot of tv. I’ve been surprised that there’s actually some good shows out there worth watching and also just channel upon channel of crap.

I got to thinking, how to do I get to find all the good tv, that I’m interested in watching nowadays. Largely I’m just flicking thru channels and find something, there are also some decent tv listings sites. But I wondered if there’s not a better way. Really I want to be able to find tv shows based on a load of symantec data. I want to be able to say I’m interested in these topics, now plot me a days tv watching based on my interests.

The other thing that occurs to me is what will the future of tv broadcasting and scheduling look like. It’s already less linear than it was with things like iplayer and itv on demand etc.
So when there’s a cloud of recorded shows floating around in the ether what’s going to be the method for scheduling shows then, will it be entirely pulled by the user or will broadcasters broadcast a set schedule even though you can realistically watch the show whenever?

I wonder what the industry has in mind? I also wonder what users want? The schedule provides a pattern to life and familiarity where as everything on demand means that discussing tv is no longer as useful a social currency.

Share

Zero Foot Print Earphone Plugs

In this crazy world where you can buy a 64GB usb drive that is little bigger than the USB plug itself how comes ear phones still have a zonking great big plug on them.

What we need for our iPod/iPhone and other PMPs is a zero (or near enough) foot print earphone plug.
If the cable was strengthened near the socket than that could be used to pull the plug out, eliminating the bulky plug entirely.

Share