Roger Federer wins Basel Open for 5th time

Monday, November 7th, 2011

With a tear in his eye (minute 5:15 in video)! Forever the hometown boy. I admire the segment of the program where the finalists distribute medals to the ball boys and girls.

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.

Federer’s footwork: he claims its fitness.

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

Interesting graphical video on the key to Roger Federer’s success.