My kind of neighborhood

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

“This is worth repeating. It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology is not enough. It’s tech married with the liberal arts and the humanities. Nowhere is that more true than in the post-PC products. Our competitors are looking at this like it’s the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive.” Steve Jobs at conclusion of iPad2 announcement.

Making cents of my media & entertainment bills Pt 2

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Maybe the habit began when our son was an infant because it was in that era- before he grew to 6’2″ at 14- when he hit the rack at 7:30 so we would continue a TV series, usually HBO, as we had dinner. Sounds uncouth, I know, and having a child in the middle years of adulthood justifies offending the New Orleans sensibilities. We began with the X-Files, continued through the Sopranos and finished-up with Homicide unless, of course, Michael Jordan and the Bulls were on tv. Then the Brits invaded led by Foyle’s War and whatever else the cast thereof acted in next. About the only regular programs that gathered the family were The Simpsons (these days, I’m the lone man standing or sitting in this case), Mystery on Masterpiece and whenever either Tiger Woods or Roger Federer were on. Tessa can watch Tiger longer than I can! Our principal source of video entertainment were the three disks from Netflix and the PS2/3 for our son. Cable was only good for sports and as a break from PlayStation.

Katy Perry Simpsons

Spoofing The Muppets, they get way with murder. Moe not kissing KP’s naval. Joke at the end of the latest Christmas Special.

We can talk about PlayStation’s impact on US-Chinese competition some other time. Most days when his grades are good, I feel that the experience of a 60′ Hitachi screen (super deal from Circuit City) with Bose speakers from the pawn shop are way more compelling than clicking through ads to find mediocre content even for a teenager curious about the reality shows.

We tried the premium package of cable mainly for the Tennis Channel and we kind of enjoyed the improved picture quality of the added-cost cable box. Ultimately – this is circa 2007 – we returned to the basic cable package and resumed our Netflix fix.

Times change and so do the reimbursement policies for information services of the mobile employee. No longer could I ‘expense’ my office land-line and my cell number. Only one is permitted. No longer am I able to ‘expense’ my Internet service; the loss of which really makes the seemingly endless stream of shopping channels and crass reality shows difficult to ignore.

Thanks to Lost then Mad Men, we explored Hulu so we could enjoy the programming with annoying commercial interruptions. Catching-up on five years of Lost over the winter was a treat. BTW, I do not object to paying for content as you will soon read. Factually, when I signed-up for cable in its early days in the 1980s, I was promised no commercials in exchange for my monthly fee! Times change as do information and entertainment delivery systems.

I reached the point in fall, mainly as I assessed our income and expenses with the backdrop of the economic climate, that I didn’t now how much we were actually spending on these categories and whatever the sum, I never seemed to find anything on tv worth watching especially when I wanted to.

At the beginning of December, we paid for the following digital bits into the house:
1. Telephone service for the home: yesterday’s post. $65.
2a. Basic Cable service $68.
2b. Internet Access via our cable monopolist including premium class (the South Koreans are laughing)- $56.
3. Netflix – $19.
4. Mobile phone service, 3 iPhones and two basic, non-smart phone models (family & business use) – $244.
Total = $450.00 per month or $5,400.00 per year.

Having purchased an iPad in spring and observing how much our son enjoyed the streaming, at no additional cost, of Netflix, I decided to explore the recently available version of Apple TV. Now I understand even more about the future of the iPad and Apple’s consumer entertainment strategy.

As usual, the installation of this Apple product was as easy as could be- provided that one has a compatible HDMI cable lying around. Why aren’t these sold or recommended at purchase? Within only a few minutes, I viewed television episodes, photos and listened to music stored on the laptop, MacBook Pro, in my office down the hall. One can access additional content from iTunes or services across the Internet. Ironically, Hulu is not one of them (Netflix is). The Apple TV box which connects to an HD compatible tv is small and light; the remote control is small and simple to use. The system is intuitive to the point where you almost don’t trust it. Sort of like ‘is this all that I have to do?!’

Prices for programming vary from 99 cents to $6. We watched Green Zone on the spur of the moment on Saturday. Streaming was smooth except for two small interruptions at the end of the movie. Backtracking a couple of frames and resuming resolved the problem. Picture quality was excellent. Price was $5.99. Not cheap but the popcorn is better. This refers to a Thanksgiving holiday movie where we spent $40 for the three of us to see the new Harry Potter film. Nothing hurts like an unsatisfying, expensive expense at the theatre.

The next day I experimented with Apple’s Air Play and amazed the family by streaming content of every variety from both my iPhone and my iPad to our Apple-enabled HD TV. The surprisingly fun part was showing photos from the iPhone in enlarged, high quality on the Panasonic tv.

On Monday, I downloaded Facetime to my MacBook and conducted a conference call with a colleague across town. The quality of the video service was solid and I feel that the capability to see each other held our attention over the one hour discussion more than voice-only conference calls do. What are the others really doing, anyway?

With my information expense in one column and the capability to organize my own entertainment programming in the other, I intend to minimize my cable expenses to the most basic and for the needed Internet access; switch Netflix from dvds to streaming service; and explore what is the proper threshold for my mobile service. How I dislike seeing my roll-over minutes evaporate due to lack of usage.

My objectives are to reduce my bills by 20% and to increase the quality and convenience of our family’s entertainment programming. At the business end of the experiment, I want to think about how the availability of varied media and the integration of media delivery platforms can influence training and education, both business and primary education. Mobility is becoming defined well beyond having to go to where the device or player is located – think driving to the office to talk on the phone or use the copier – to having the media available where content is most useful. Maybe this was the initial wonder of books? We’ll see.

Starting from the Mobile Web: dare I say, Web 3.0?

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Many, if not too many clients, are trying to figure-out how to justify the investment from Web 1.0, publishing, to Web 2.0, encouraging genuine participation. They are mired in too much data; not organized to maintain a discussion with their clients; and just don’t want to do it even though, through their younger friends and kids, know that this is the way of the near future.

I suggest that they start with the mobile device as is illustrated in this compelling and informative slide show. Figure out which data is the most useful to clients and send it to them, where they are and formatted for the mobile device. Not the cell phone. The telephony component doesn’t matter much and becomes even less compelling e.g. not my phone browses the web, but my mobile device – of varying sizes – can make phone calls. Think Tablet Computing as evidenced by the iPad more than the iPhone. Use the web site for static information and deeper searches. Leverage other sites. Above all, make available on the web site that content which the organization is willing to actively maintain.

Duke wins NCAA B-ball title – may the best coached team win

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Not all gloomy for America. iPad released to rave reception by more than just the fanatics. What this portends for education and training is inspiring. I shared a look at my iPad with a friendly, hip young guy at the Kitty Hawk coffee shop this morning. His elegant Mac Book Pro looked like a mainframe compared to the iPad. Typical Mac community interaction, ie sharing a look at Apple products. Can you imagine PC types doing this?!

Last night my son streamed a movie to the iPad from wifi system that came with the beach house rental. The NetFlix app for video is super. So is the iBook reader; so is the speaker for the iPod; so is the picture viewer; so is, so is, so…..I’m one of the fans, for sure. Wouldn’t you agree that this yet-another-hit-from-Apple offsets the well intentioned bumbling and intentional deception which seems to dominate the news, even in a period of declining news coverage. Who can we trust?! Are we in this together or not?! As Casey Stengal once asked, ” does anyone here know how to play this game?!”

Coach K does. He doesn’t wear it on his sleeve and he is a graduate of West Point, class of 1969. His recruiting of late suffered repercussions of the 2006 lacrosse racially scarred scandal. With a Gold Medal and his 4th NCAA trophy, not a problem any longer.

He showed this year that he knows how to win with the team that he’s got – good players but not the best players. Kentucky, Baylor and several others had faster and more athletic teams of players. Maybe even Carolina. But no team played with the confidence, cohesion and simple understanding of role and circumstance as did Duke. Leadership matters.
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This is what Duke and Apple have in common: a commitment to exceptional performance – some may describe this as innovation – that borders on cult worship but is genuinely about the expectation of excellence. I observe that the heart of achievement is trust: trust in ourselves – the notion of letting it happen – after we’ve worked hard to learn how it is suppose to happen ( call this education). If we might assemble a team or unit or platoon or department or start-up of so educated, self-trusting individuals and provide the rigor of expectation in an atmosphere of sincere, mutual support, then the results or the potential will be as they are supposed to be. A good bet is that this formula will most often produce team success and invariably produce a product championship or two along the way.

America can do better; needs to do better; had better do better if only because never knowing how to win can become a way of life as well.

Here’s hoping that Butler is the next to join the ranks of hero programs.

Tags: Duke_basketball, NACC_final_4
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Research Triangle Park (RTP) on new Apple iPad

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

What app will look like when iPad available.
iPad RTP home page
Screen shot 2010-01-27 at 4.06.05 PM
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