Archive for December, 2007

Media Predictions for 2008

Monday, December 31st, 2007

The thing that surprises most people when I talk about the future is the death of static media. I mean no more DVDs, no more CDs. I can remember when VHS beat out Betamax. I can remember when CDs made vinyl and tape obsolete almost overnight. I can remember when DVDs replaced VHS during one Christmas season. It is easy to predict that a new format will replace CDs and DVDs any minute now.

Apple iPods have made CDs obsolete already, but there are pirating concerns and copy protection issues that holding back the technology. I think that the record companies want to hold back the death of CDs for as long as possible. I think that they should give up.

Here’s what I think should replace the CD. I call it the Music Chip. The Music Chip will be a sealed system. You can’t record on it. It can only play the songs that were burned into it when it was made. It will have a small rechargeable battery and a socket for earphones. It will contain 20 songs and will cost about $10 retail and about 30 cents to make. (The recording artist will get about 3 cents a song, as they do now with CDs.) An optional charger will cost about $20. It will come in a blister pack with a small booklet. It will only play audio. It will contain a digital version of the songs, but the digital source will be embedded in the chip and it will not be rippable. The only way to steal music will be to play the songs through the audio port into the microphone port of a PC. The quality will be about the same as the old 45 rpm singles that died 15 years ago. High quality versions of the songs will be available for download with DRM (digital rights management) copy protection.

Prediction: This year there were single song musical greeting cards available quite cheaply. You will see music chips available for all the latest hit recording artists at K-Mart for stocking stuffers next Fall.

DVDs are dead. The whole idea of selling hard copy movies for viewing in the house has been marginal. The studios make money on DVD sales, only if the DVD cost is well below the price of a theater ticket and comparable with the cost of a rental. I don’t want to see most movies more than once. The movie rental industry knows this. HBO and Cinemax have been “renting” movies through cable for years. TV stations have been giving movies and TV shows away free for years because the advertising model works well for TV. The TV networks are finally wising up and realizing that advertising works just as well on the internet as it did in broadcast. The networks are posting their TV shows online and making as much money per viewer as they made on broadcast. The trend is that fewer people are watching TV and broadcast advertising revenues are falling.

Prediction: Before the end of the year, flash-in-the-pan movies will go directly from theatrical release to YouTube. The movies and TV shows on the internet will have imbedded advertising that will be added dynamically. The ads will be tailored to the viewer as well as the movie content. The technology will alter the streaming video and overlay advertising, directly on the video over uncluttered portions of the picture, so that no amount of editing by hackers can remove it. Movies and TV shows will be available on the TV using appliances like the Apple IVideo box for free. The content will contain commercials. It will seem like ordinary TV, but the delivery process will be different. It seems obvious that the Cable Companies will want to do this, but providing free TV is not something that the cable companies can possibly understand, and they will find themselves trying to make a small profit off of being cheap internet service providers.

Other predictions.

Satellite radio will go live on the internet and give up the satellites. I think the only people that listen to satellite radio are the people that get the free introduction subscription and the renewal rate is very low. The iPhone can get the internet most anywhere for less than $100 per month. I suspect that most people will be able to stream the internet radio to their car speakers through the iPhone. There will have to be some cool software written with huge buffers to account for the natural low signal patches, but the software should be knocking around by next Christmas.

The first truly interactive TV shows will appear nearly 60 years after Ray Bradbury described them in Fahrenheit 451. If you will remember in Bradbury’s novel, the TV sets were large flat screens that covered an entire wall (or two) and the shows had a character that was left out for the viewer to play. The software has to be smart enough to detect the interaction, but forgiving enough to compensate for a viewer who flubs his lines or runs out to the bathroom for a few minutes. These would be more than computer games and more like long running soap operas where you can interact with the characters. Computer games will go large scale with WII type interfaces and multi-person shooters will figure a way to shoot back, perhaps even with deadly results (I can only hope).

Remote presence devices will appear. Think of a Roomba crossed with a Mars Rover only with a face. Internet devices with a screen, camera, speaker and microphone will appear. Consider these scenarios. I want to visit Machu Pichu, but I can’t afford it. I rent a mobile device that I can control with my mouse from the privacy of my own home and have the device “walk” around the ruins. I can take pictures. I can explore anywhere I want. I can talk to the other tourists at the site without ever leaving my desk. Suppose I want to go to Las Vegas. I can rent a little wandering robot at a casino. It has an arm that can put quarters in the slots. It has a pocket where I can put the winnings and have them shipped back to me. Suppose I want to go shopping in Paris. My little robot can go from shop to shop and I can talk to the shop owners or haggle with the vendors on the Left Bank. If I were a travel destination, I would be looking to buy several of these right now. If I were planning a wedding, I would rent a dozen of these for relatives that live too far away to travel to the reception. If I were bed ridden, I would buy one of these and ship it all over the world, wherever there is an available wi-fi or fast wireless internet connection. I could go anywhere in the world without leaving my wheelchair. Strangely enough, I can’t find anyone selling these. I’ll have to build one in the cellar.


Monday, December 31st, 2007

I started writing my New Year’s resolutions. After I listed ten, I went back and found previous year’s blog entries on the subject and I realized that I blogged 7 of the 10 resolutions in previous years.

So much for 2008. I will not humiliate myself by listing them again.

At least I’ve never resolved to lose weight. I know that is a lost cause. The best I can do is not gain any new weight.

I hope everyone has a happy new year.

Year End Statistics

Friday, December 28th, 2007

This blog and in general are getting fewer and fewer hits. Most hits are on the cliche page and the black hole extensions. The blog itself gets 1/5 the hits it was getting this time last year. The RSS feeds still gets 250 hits a day, but I have decided that this is mainly aggregators and robots. Feedburner shows a steady 10 or so real rss customers.

Justine says that this is because I don’t have enough cat pictures and too many tech articles and/or rants. I should concentrate on the cats and folksy news and I will be more popular. Nobody likes the technical stuff and nobody cares for my off the wall opinions. Well that’s not so easy for me. I write what I feel is important at the moment. Many of the the things that I think about can’t be discussed with the people at work or with the poker boys. Erica is sympathetic, but I doubt if she cares that my page views per unique visit changed in October.

The traffic in general on my sites is going up steadily. There have been shifts. Google changed its algorithms in September and my HarpAmps site dropped by half, but the other harmonica sites took up the slack and even HarpAmps is slowly coming back.

The total traffic for all sites was about 4 million page views last year. I am currently receiving about 500,000 page views a month or about 16,000 page views a day, but this will die down in January. The blog is only a few hundred of these viewers, but I care more about the blog than the other sites.

The surprises are that Paperthetown started getting hits out of the blue and HarpTab has been getting a huge number of mysterious hits from some spammy toolbar. These mysterious hits don’t result in income, though.

FreeNameAStar did very well and paid for all of my Christmas Shopping, bought me an 1963 vintage amplifier, and will pay for my Astronomy course this spring. I was averaging 25 pay stars a day up until Christmas, but this has died down to nothing again. I made more than 10 times what I made last year on stars. I credit this to the site redesign. I didn’t think that a change in web site design could make such a big difference in profits.

The Baseball Magic numbers were disappointing. I made about the same this year as last year in total. All I need is to have the sites appear in some magazine or mentioned on TV and they will take off.

Adsense has not increased this year over last year and has actually dropped by 20% in the last 4 months. I was going to use adsense to retire on, but I guess I have to keep working.

The Amazon money is mostly through beta context clicks. The Chitika pays very little but I have had it at the bottom of every page since August. Commission Junction is largely the income from clicks on eBay searches. Coast2Coast is a harmonica company, but I have to take the payment in harmonicas. Since I don’t play much anymore, I haven’t used this credit.

If there is a recession in 2008, I expect that all of this will go down. I think that the growth rate in internet traffic is starting to level off and the exponential changes I’ve seen in the past ten years will be more linear.

I am still waiting for the next big thing. There will be a web killer app soon. This will be a new paradigm that will change the way people use the web. I was looking at Justine’s iPhone and thinking that this will part of it. The death of broadcast TV and CDs will be coming soon to be placed with Video on Demand (think youtube) and digital media (think mp3s). All of my sites are primarily text based. I’ve tried audio and video, but it takes way more time.

It’s time to think about new year’s resolutions. I’ll have to look at the last few years resolutions to see what I wanted to do and failed to do. I think I may have blogged some of them.

Get your resolutions ready.

Oldest WWI Vet Dies at 109

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

When I was a boy it was not uncommon to see World War I “dough boys” in parades. They looked very old then, however my Grandfather was older, being too old for WWI but not old enough for the Spanish American war. I can also remember seeing headlines where the One of the Last Remaining Civil War Veteran Dies.

My father was a WWII vet and his kind are a dying breed. Even Korean vets are elderly and the few of my friends that lived through the Viet Nam War are rapidly approaching retirement.

Perhaps it is the coming new year, or perhaps I miss my Dad, but I am feeling quite down about this passing of the generations and the knowledge that I am part of this march into the future.

This week, as the old year ends and we wonder what will come in the next one, I am a little sad.

Oldest WWI Vet Dies at 109

Honor Harrington

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

I have an MP3 format version of a few of David Weber’s Honor Harrington books. Weber is very up front in stating that the character Honor Harrington is somewhat based on Horatio Hornblower. Just as James Kirk is based on Hornblower, the female character Honor Harrington is in the end quite a bit different from the deeply conflicted character invented by C. S. Forester.

I listened to the first book in the series – On Basilisk Station, which has some intense space battles that are very reminiscent of the naval battles in “Beat to Arms” and other Hornblower books. I wish that the Honor Harrington character had more depth, in fact my main criticism of the the Harrington books is that the characters seem to be a little flat.

I am about half way through the second book, The Honor of the Queen, and I have trouble telling one person from another. My internal narrator has trouble differentiating. These books are long and seem to suffer with the problem of long periods of “Tell” not “Show” because there is so much back story to the political situation. Weber also flips viewpoints from character to character occasionally in a way that I find jarring. (e.g. When Harrington leaves the room, the narrative often continues from the viewpoint of someone left in the room. Either this is wrong or Weber is not doing it well and I find I have to mentally catch up to follow the thread.)

I like the books and I like Harrington, but there are many times that I would prefer to be actually reading from a book rather than listening so I could skim chapters until there was some action. The action, when it comes, is good. Harrington is not as complex as Hornblower or charismatic as Kirk, but she is a good solid character. I like a good space shoot-em-up.

One thing that is notable about the books is the political issues. Weber uses terms such as liberal and conservative that in our own world carry considerable baggage, but in the Honor Harrington world have more literal meanings. The book’s liberals are against war and the conservatives don’t want to spend money, but the differences between our own political definitions of these terms is very apparent.

In the book Honor of the Queen, two extreme religious sects give Honor a problem because they believe that women should be kept at home to have babies and the men won’t deal directly with Honor. She winds up fighting on one side against the other, but it is odd that she has to defend such a sexist view. Honor considers herself a conservative and yet her positions and most of the political positions of her nation would be considered liberal. It is an odd mix. (I have no doubt that Honor will impress the woman haters by her courage and strength and strike a blow for woman’s rights on this odd planet.)

One thing that troubles me is that the time period is two millennia in the future but the technology is barely beyond our own and progress has been reduced to a crawl. I find it difficult to write about technology more than a few score of years in the future because I feel that the pace of change will only increase, making the future very hard to predict. The retarded technology of Honor Harrington is a convenient trick to make the fiction easier to write.


Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Here’s an interesting concept. I almost wish that I had thought of it. Send these people your stories and they make them available for anthologies. A person who likes short stories can pick and choose from a bunch of stories and create a customized anthology. I would guess that the anthologies are published through LuLu, which means that there is a manual step for each anthology sold so you have to rely on a human to format the stories, select the cover and set up the book with

I am tempted to send them 20 or so of my published stories. You make in the neighborhood of a dime for each anthology sold.

The reality of the situation is that not many people read short story anthologies. I think they will be lucky to sell 100 anthologies a year. I hope that I am wrong and they sell many thousands. There are a great many excellent short story anthologies available and if these don’t sell all that well, how can they expect the roll-your-own anthologies to sell any better?

Another drawback is that is already too expensive. These people will slap their own profit in addition to the $1.50 for the author’s share.

Author’s are paid after their account reaches $20, which is about 150 to 200 anthology sales. My opinion is that you’ll have to wait about 5 years before you are paid.

AnthologyBuilder: create your own science fiction or fantasy anthology

By the Throats

Monday, December 24th, 2007
The Holiday Season has us by the throats, again.
A. Bunker

Ollie Watching Christmas Birds

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Ollie was watching the birds at the feeder from the bay window. The presents, the tree, and the ornaments made for a good picture. Click it to see a big version.

Hermie Comes to Visit

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I’m off today. I had to work on the truck and do some chores.

A local cat who Erica has named Hermie comes to visit. She swears that she doesn’t feed him, but I think she does. Our cats don’t like him. They sneak up, peer at him and growl whenever we open the back door.

Christmas Tampon Angel Ornaments

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

I have been getting thousands of hits on my site. I created this site from a variety of old databases that I found. I reformatted the data and made a neat way to store the information. I never actually read much of the content and I am always surprised at what the search engines dig up.

The one page that has been getting the most hits is this:

Tampon angel ornaments!!!!!!

Use Playtex because they fan out into a cone shape.

Dip into water until tampon expands.

Remove and tie at the top to create the angel’s head. Let hang (by handy dandy string) for several days until dry.

Paint face with peach or skin tone, and draw small black dots for eyes. Add blush or pink paint to cheeks.

Paint “dress” with glimmer paint. Criss-cross thin gold ribbon across chest (around neck).

Add yellow doll hair to top of head as well as a gold pipe cleaner for a halo.

For the grand finale…glue small gold angel wings to back.

Ta da!!!

You would never know she belonged anywhere else than your tree!!!!

People have to look long and hard to figure out where that little darlin really is from!!!

It’s like my page is the only one in the world that explains how to make these bizarre things. I don’t think I’d want them on my tree. I do like all the exclamation points. The person who wrote this was very excited.

I expect to see lots of these this Christmas. Send me pictures!

Chimney Stickings

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Chimney Stickings Quote of the day:

We asked him what he was doing down there and he said, ‘What do you think?‘”

Neil Gaiman Short Christmas Story

Monday, December 17th, 2007

This is a short short short story by Neil Gaiman.

Nicholas Was…

For Justine

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Fafhrd is not happy about the hat but at least he is resigned to it while I take a picture or two.

Christmas Music

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

I listened to some Good and Bad music today.

Dianna Krall’s new album is the best of the bunch,

Jorma Kaukonen’s Christmas CD has some good moments mixed with not so good moments.

Josh Brogan is very good, but a little heavy on tradition.

The Springsteen Christmas CDs sucked big time.

A Soulful Christmas is too much soul. All the songs start to sound alike. It would have been better if mixed in with the others.

I downloaded an album of “cool” Christmas songs including The Ramones, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. It should be interesting.

I will pull out Elvis and Sinatra next. These are two great Christmas Albums – on vinyl.

I have a blues bootleg xmas tape if I can find it. Nothing like T-Bone Walker singing Christmas carols.