Tsunami in Indian Ocean puts life in perspective

There’s nothing like a natural disaster to put things in perspective. When I heard about the earthquake and tsunamis I reacted in the way most people probably do: “Gosh that’s terrible,” but it’s a long way away.

But I’ve just got back from India and have a very good idea of the conditions people are living in and how dreadful something like this would be. A news report on Channel Ten here summed it up horirbly. The finacial reporter said investors were dumping aviation, tourism and insurance stock. Nice. The worst part was the glib comment at the end that went like this: “However, insurance companies are not expecting a wave [sic] of claims as most of the victims were uninsured.”

Then I remembered a friend of mine on Koh Samui from whom I still haven’t heard and my friend had an SMS from honeymooning friends of his who saw the wave but were okay. Two people from their hotel are missing still though. It makes whinging about flight delays pretty petty I have to admit.

iTorrent – will Apple come to the BitTorrent party?

Now that BitTorrents account for around 35% of all net traffic (40%, shockingly, is spam) will Apple create iTorrent or implement it in iTunes eventually? It seems too big an opportunity to miss.

I was chatting with Mark Pesce last night who has several insightful views on the whole personal media space and new technologies in general and he was bemoaning the ugly nature of most BitTorrent clients. It’s true and here’s the thing: I consider myself reasonably geeky. On a scale of 1 to 10 with my grandma at 1 and a Grateful Dead fan at 10, I’m about a 5 or 6. I have RSS readers running and a BitTorrent client, but basically it’s all too much like hard work sometimes.

Mark’s point about personal media, or F*ck Big Media, is that P2P networks, RSS, blogs, etc. are successfully eroding broadcast media, which is gradually becoming more and more stale and onerous. Fair point, but sometimes the apathy sets in for me, I just can’t be bothered to sift through all the potential media feeds, nor set up complex automated systems and so I’ll turn on the telly.

What Apple did with iTunes was make the whole MP3 scene easy and legal. I’d probably download, legally, a DVD if it cost a couple of dollars. That’s about what the studio would probably get or need to reimburse the cost of making the film/show. The rest of the cost goes into marketing, duplication, retail, markup, etc.

$2-3 seems reasonable, after all I’m paying for the distribution via my bandwidth (in both directions with BitTorrents), I pay for the media (DVD, HD, etc.). It costs the studio next to nothing to upload it and I’m more than happy for my money to be spent on creating new, quality content. But it needs to be easy, otherwise it will fail.

So, when you can carry around your movies on your iPod (forget watching them on a crap little screen – it should plug into the TV like the photo version) and it’s as easy to download as music is on iTMS, then we’ll be truly broadcatching. It won’t be called iTorrent either – Torrent is a dreadful name, it sounds like a bad case of diarrhea.

Flight cancelled due to snow. In Siberia.

Okay, another airline rant. This time my friend Sean coming over from London via Japanese Airlines (JAL). His flight was cancelled due to snow in Siberia. Now, it’s winter in Siberia at the moment, so, um, isn’t it always snowing there? How about choosing a better route?

My sister-in-law, Ute, was also delayed by five hours from Frankfurt. So, another airline to add to the blacklist.

Why Sony don’t get it in so many ways

I’m a little late on this one but, hey, I’ve been offline in India. It’s always sad to see a big corporation like Sony completely misunderstand its own marketing hype and the emotional connection consumers have with products.

So not only are they pointlessly flexing their corporate muscle trying to sue Jason Kottke for posting a transcript of Ken Jennings losing a fortune on Jeopardy (there’s a good account of this all from Anil Dash) but also forced RetroPod to stop selling their iPod cased made from recycled Sony Sports Walkman cases.

Copyright law is there to stop others exploiting ideas that aren’t their own and prevent damage to a name or loss of earnings. Let’s face it, neither of these cases really warrant its invocation. In the RetroPod case, Sony’s worry that people will “be misled into thinking that Sony is backward in its design of products and is going away from miniaturization, as the size of the tape player housing is quite large by today’s standards” is both absurd and misses the point.

The iPod has become the new Walkman and Sony missed out and messed up. Sony’s user interface, mainly due to miniaturisation, is awful on most of their products and their product design varies wildly. I have a MiniDisc (I have an iPod too) that has a battery case that looks like someone from Sony’s blind designers department designed it.

Secondly, they’re shitting on their own doorstep because people love retro technology. My friend Nic Roope’s Pokia handsets for mobiles are a classic example. The Walkman is the product that brought Sony to the masses and stole their hearts. As soon as they start messing with that a fragile, fickle emotional relationship breaks down. Can you imagine Apple clamping down on the modding scene? No, I thought not.

Incidentally, here in Australia it’s illegal to rip CDs that you have bought to your iPod. So that would mean you could only play MP3’s that were legally downloaded and nothing else. Copyright is way behind the times.

Check out the Open Letter to Howard Stringer, CEO Sony Corporation America, by The Head Lemur for more.

Thanks toHugh ‘Gaping Void’ Macleod for many of the links.

Voice from The Void – the Blogosphere is alive and well

Oh, the irony of it all. After my post about Hugh Macleod of Gaping Void not responding to my mails and posts, I got a comment from Hugh:

“I suppose I could just do what Nick Denton does- turn off the comments from his blog(s) and limit all e-mail replies to less than 6 words. But of course, that wouldn’t be my style ;-) I think the important thing for gapingvoid is for me to keep posting new cartoons. The other stuff- marketing rants, comment intercation, e-mails… that is secondary. Thanks for airing these points in public, it’s good to see this stuff coming to the surface. Sorry if I’ve not been responsive enough, but jeez, I’m overloaded at the moment.”

I tend to agree – the worst thing that could happen would be for him to stop posting and spend all his time writing replies. The foxes would be overrunning the rabbits. It still doesn’t solve the problem of what to do when you become a successful blogger (I’m still waiting), but turning off the comments seems to be a bad idea to me. At the very least, it limits the conversations others might be having with each other on your blog and that can be as interesting as the comments on the original post.

I’m pleased that Hugh responded to the post, because it also means the Blogosphere is alive and well. Somehow the information got to him. Still, I’m curious as to how he found out. Information finds a way…

Vice President Dogsbody – the rise of misleading job titles

I just saw a job ad today for “Vice President of General Duties”. Vice President? So what are these general duties then? They must be pretty important to need a President, one that also needs a Vice.

Job Type: Casual Assistance with general duties as follows:
    delivery of marketing flyers assistance with various on site promotions mystery shopping of agents various other day to day activities

I really don’t want to demean anyone doing these kinds of jobs, they have to be done and they pay the bills. But isn’t it a little misleading and absurd to come up with pompous titles? How about “All Powerful Ruler of Washing Up required for busy restaurant.”

The Void in Gaping Void – What to do when blogs become victims of their own success?

I’ve been having an interesting conversation with Euph recently in the comments of my previous post about the SoundPryer and it’s led me to ruminate on what happens when blogs become victims of their own success.

Our conversation went like this:

AP:Personal media spaces (blogs, iPods, bitTorrents, etc.) allow for something else to go on. I can write about green frogs, for example, all the time on here because I don’t advertise and don’t do this for the money. Euph: Question though could these spaces (blogs, iPods, bitTorrents, etc.) and personal connectivity eventually go the way the internet searching has sort of gone e.g the phenomen of some people thinking now that if you can’t find it by Google it dosen’t exist.

Continue reading “The Void in Gaping Void – What to do when blogs become victims of their own success?”