Sunday, July 24, 2005

eHomeUpgrade | Cisco Systems to Acquire KiSS Technology A/S

eHomeUpgrade | Cisco Systems to Acquire KiSS Technology A/S: "KiSS is a leading technology provider for networked entertainment devices and has a product portfolio that includes home video products such as networked DVD players and networked DVD recorders. KiSS's technology platform also has the capability to extend to other consumer electronics products and will help Linksys develop a unique, networked entertainment product suite."

Looks like Linksys is getting more serious about the networked entertainment device space....

Friday, July 22, 2005

Billboard PostPlay: Coremedia Combines OMA DRM With Microsoft DRM

Billboard PostPlay: Coremedia Combines OMA DRM With Microsoft DRM:

Great for the consumer, but I'm sure that neither Microsoft nor the mobile carriers are too pleased about this. Microsoft wants the handset manufacturers to license their DRM, and the carriers don't want you to be able to buy music without them in the loop. Let the mayhem begin!

BetaNews | Longhorn Gets a Name: Windows Vista

BetaNews | Longhorn Gets a Name: Windows Vista: "Now, it appears Microsoft has chosen an official name for Longhorn with just that in mind. Enter: Windows Vista."

I don't know... I think I like "Longhorn" better. :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How To Turn A Travel Mug Into An MP3 Player Mounting System

Maybe I've been watching too many back-to-back airings of "American Chopper", but after struggling to come up with a good way to mount my Creative Zen Micro in my car this idea struck me.

Essentially, by using an old travel mug and a 20 cent "L" bracket that I had laying around, I hacked together this solution. The bent "L" bracket slides into the Zen Micro's case on one end, and into the "sip hole" of the coffee mug at the other.

The good news is that it is secure, the right height with adjustable angle (just spin the mug so either the driver or passenger can easily read) and best of all, a place to store my player when I park. Hopefully, this will keep any potential thieves from breaking in (unless someone is just dying for what looks like a cup of stale coffee). I'm thinking about trying to run the wires (mini-jack to cassette adapter and cigarette lighter to mini-USB charger) through the bottom to clean it up a little. The bad news... that mug won't ever see coffee again.

AOL's Music on Demand gets Emmy Nomination

Sweet. I certainly can't take credit for this, but it is nice to work on something that gets recognized by the industry. Check the competition out:

From Interactive TV Today :

The nominees for the Emmy for Non-Program Specific Enhanced or Interactive Television for a Channel, Network or Service are:

  • AOL Music On Demand (Zetools / Time Warner Cable)
  • The DirecTV Interactive Service (DirecTV)
  • iO Interactive Optimum Digital Cable Service (Cablevision Systems Corporation)
  • Reuters Interactive TV Channel (Reuters)
  • Sesame Street Games (Sesame Workshop)

The ITV Emmys will be presented at the Creative Arts Awards Ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles on September 11th. The Academy has upgraded the status of its ITV Emmys this year: the award decisions of the Interactive Media Peer Group are no longer subject to ratification by the Academy's board, and all recipients will receive Emmy statuettes; previously, it was up to the board to decide whether each recipient would receive a statuette or a simple plaque.

PBS | I, Cringely . July 14, 2005 - More Shoes

PBS | I, Cringely . July 14, 2005 - More Shoes Very interesting speculation from Robert Cringely about the the Apple/Intel + Intel/Clickstar deals and how they may be inherently linked.

In short, Cringely says he thinks that Clickstar will power an iTunes Movie Service with Intel providing the support for a device ecosystem that can access the content from living room and mobile devices. Could be, but I think the mobile DRM issue is non-trivial and unless Intel has solved the portable tether subscription issues that Microsoft has already tackled with "Janus", then I'm not sure how they plan to "rent" first-run movie content. Maybe the consumers would only have a "purchase" movie option?

Keep an eye on this one...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

BetaNews | Napster To Go Comes to Palm

BetaNews | Napster To Go Comes to Palm: "Napster on Monday announced that it had certified a new set of devices to work with the company's Napster To Go subscription based music service, including a new option for users of some Palm OS handhelds through third-party software."

Good news. The more Janus devices the better. What is more exciting is the thought of NormSoft's Janus compatible player (Pocket Tunes 3.1) running on the new Treo. I'm not sure if any of the existing Treo's (or upcoming) have a secure clock, which is a requirement for Janus, but I would think that they should...

News Corporation to Acquire Intermix Media, Inc.

News Corporation to Acquire Intermix Media, Inc.: "Acquisition Includes World's Fastest-Growing Social Networking Portal,"

I had heard the rumors that MySpace was a prime acquistion target, but I would have not guessed that Fox would be the suitor. I'm as big a fan of MySpace as most, but I've got to say that I think $580 Million is more than a little steep for a site and service that can be duplicated fairly easily. Granted, they are buying mulitple properties and established eyeballs, but if MySpace can build that kind of traffic as a small independent company with little to no marketing budget (at first), than others should be able to do the same.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Xbox 360 launching November 4th? - Engadget -

Xbox 360 launching November 4th? - Engadget - "It's not entirely clear where they scored this info, but is reporting that Microsoft is going to launch the Xbox 360 on November 4th."

Nice. Say an early "hello" to the first Media Center Extender device that will hit critical mass. Now all Microsoft has to do is include Media Center functionality in the baseline Windows "Longhorn" Home Edition.

Music Videos May Be Coming to iPods - Yahoo! News

Music Videos May Be Coming to iPods - Yahoo! News Ah, the enigma that is known as Steve Jobs. Lots of stories the last couple of days regarding Apple's Video iPod plans. If true, then you've got to wonder about Jobs' credibility.

Here is a quote from Jobs' published by SeattlePI last year regarding the Video iPod rumors...

Responded Jobs: "You know one of the things that I say around Apple, I paraphrase Bill Clinton when he was running long ago, when he said, 'It's the economy stupid.' I say, 'It's the music, stupid.' We have to stay focused on the fact that people are buying these devices to listen to music. ... People love listening to music as a background activity when they're exercising, when they're commuting and when they're just hanging out. Music is a wonderful thing because A, it's music, and B, because it can be listened to as a background activity. And a lot of these other things that people are talking about building in, such as video and things like that, are foreground activities. You can't drive a car when you're watching a movie. You know? It's really hard. So we really are very focused on music because that's what we think the revolution is here."

This is exactly why I don't believe any of the latest feigned disinterest from Jobs' regarding a subscription music service. As he has a history of doing, I believe he will continue to spout "people don't want it" until he is ready to launch. Then he will position himself as the creator of all that is good and holy and grant the world the power to subscribe to a music service. Ugh.

Friday, July 15, 2005 casting the net wider casting the net wider It took a little finnagling, but I just learned how to use tags in association with a podcatching client (DopplerRadio). Basically, this enables me to tag any media file I find online with my "jherskowitzpodcasts" tag and it will then automatically download to my PC and dump it into a newly created My Music/Podcasts folder. It also creates an auto-synced playlist so that they next time I connect my portable player I will get the content I tagged.

Most podcatching clients seem to have settings that allow you to specify how many files/podcasts to download, how long to keep them, maximium size allowed, etc. Once I find some copyright-free material to tag, I will let you know and you guys should be able to easily subscribe to my "channel".

UPDATE: My podcast feed is available here....

AIM Fight!

AIM Fight!

Not necessarily useful for much, but still kind of fun in a time-wasting sort of way. Interesting to see just how networked you are in the AIM world.... Recommendations

I've started to toy around with and am now "tagging" artists so that they appear in a recommendations RSS feed. I then used an RSS-to-Javascript converter so that I can put that module into the sidebar of this page. Now, when ever I see/hear something that I want to recommend, I can just right-click and "post link to" and it will appear shortly thereafter in this blog. More experiments are in the works (such as the AIM presence indicator I recently added). Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Podcatching 101 - Editor's Corner "Hey, what's this podcasting/catching thing all about?" you ask. Well, here is a nice overview of how to get started in a Windows Media Player world (enough with iTunes already!).

The Weakerthans : Get Music : MusicNow

The Weakerthans : Get Music : MusicNow

New feature! My artist pick of the moment, The Weakerthans. Check them out.

The Globe and Mail: A record company's best friend

The Globe and Mail: A record company's best friend: "Welcome to the world of mp3 blogs, the soft beachhead of the recording industry's efforts to get more gain and less pain from on-line music sharing. The same companies that are trying to crush illegal downloading are making nice with a growing army of audio bloggers who offer free access to copyrighted music every day."

The labels speak... file sharing bad, streaming audio blogs of the same content...good.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

iMesh Announces Distribution Agreement with SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT

BUSINESS WIRE: The Global Leader in News Distribution: "Slated to roll out this year, the new iMesh will offer consumers a broad selection of easily accessible content of all genres to be discovered, shared and enjoyed within an active P2P community. Authorized content will be available through ala carte downloads and a subscription sales plan, allowing users unlimited music downloads, for a low monthly fee. The iMesh site will also open access to a large pool of content culled from multiple sources, including the Gnutella network, that will remain available for unlimited downloads that are free to the user. The iMesh community will be able to search, sample and download a growing selection of more than 15 million tracks as part of a shared experience. To further assure the compensation of rightsholders, iMesh enables a confirmed rightsholder to register their content and make instant claim for protection and compensation for their works under a mutually agreed formula. "

These iMesh and Snocap P2P deals are interesting, in that it creates an open trading post for unsigned artists and small indies to get there stuff out there, but without a compelling discovery/recomendations engine I don't think it is going to help the average user much. The good news for these companies is that they may be able to get thousands of small artists advertising their solution.... "look for us on iMesh!".

RangeMax Wireless Networking Technology

RangeMax Wireless Networking Technology: "Buy a RangeMax Router and receive a free RangeMax Wireless Adapter when you trade-in your old wireless router."

Hey, this looks like a pretty sweet deal. I was thinking about upgrading anyways, and this may be just what the doctor ordered. All I have to do is get myself to the post office and let Netgear borrow $100 for 4 months... AOL, AEG and XM To Launch On-Demand "Live Channel" Venture July 12, 2005 Archives: "America Online is tying up with movie theater/stadium/entertainment giant AEG Group and satellite radio player XM to launch an on-demand 'live entertainment' venture, has learned. The formal announcement is expected as soon as tomorrow... "

Friday, July 08, 2005

Is Apple Your Next Mobile Phone Carrier? -

Everybody In The Pool - "The solution could be for Apple to launch its own cellular network, doing an end run around carriers and providing the company with revenue from both selling phone handsets and from the resale of cellular service. "

It's no secret that the latest iTunes release (4.9) is riddled with references of phone support, such as:

  • Eject mobile phone.
  • Phone>Podcasts
  • iPod>iPodmobile
  • iPod Phone Prefs
  • iPod>Phone>iTunes Setup
  • Phone>Updating contacts
  • The name of my mobile phone is:__
  • The mobile phone cannot be ejected because it contains files that are in use by another application.
  • Set Up Your Mobile Phone
  • Automatically choose songs for my mobile phone
  • iTunes will automatically fill your mobile phone with a random selection of songs from your library. You may fill your mobile phone with a different selection of songs by pressing Autofill in the mobile phone playlist.
  • No mobile phone connected.
  • Open iTunes when this mobile phone is attached.
I, like most, figured this was just a precursor to Cingular releasing the much discussed/much delayed Motorola iTunes phone. But, Apple as a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator)? It had never really crossed my mind before, but it seems like it could be a good oportunity for them. Apply Apple's flair for "cool" industrial design to a combo phone/iPod, and then subsidize the hardware with a carrier contract (private-labeled Cingular network perhaps?) and you've got a pretty compelling offering.

I'm going to have to keep my eyes and ears open on this. This is one of the more industry rumors I've heard in a while.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Stocks That Will Rock Your World [ Commentary] July 5, 2005

Stocks That Will Rock Your World [ Commentary] July 5, 2005: "That's why I believe that, years from now, the major labels won't be the same batch of old-school vinyl pushers you see today. As ludicrous as it may seem, I think that the real power brokers in the music industry will be Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT)."

I agree with Motley Fool's Rick Aristotle Munarriz on the point above, but I beleive that he is of course missing one major player... AOL. You may say I'm biased (and I am), but with AOL still glowing the Live8 broadcast triumph and introduction of an industry benchmark Video Search service, AOL is quickly recasting themselves as THE company to watch.

Xbox 360 Media Center Screenshots

We are starting to see some screenshots appear for the Xbox 360. This is my

personal favorite... the media "blade".

Target Aims At Music Subscriptions -

Target Aims At Music Subscriptions - "Executives at major music labels who have seen Target's presentation say the offering, which will be powered by Seattle-based Loudeye (nasdaq: LOUD - news - people ), will offer both a 'tethered' service, which allows customers to use the service only on their PCs, as well as a 'portable' service, which allows users to move the tracks to compatible music players--which, notably, does not include the most popular digital music player, Apple's iPod. The portable service, sources say, will likely be priced somewhere between the $6.99 charged by Yahoo! for Yahoo! Music Unlimited and the $14.95 charged by RealNetworks and others for their portable services."

According to the story, Target thinks there niche in the market is appealing to mothers who purchase music for their families. I applaud the fact that Target's marketing muscle will help educate consumers on the benefits of subscription music service, but ultimately I don't Target is going to make much of an impact (at least for the first few years). Walmart is having the same problem...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

ABC's modest Live 8 special rocked by AOL |

Television Article | "ABC's two-hour highlights special from the Live 8 concerts drew just 2.9 million viewers Saturday, according to preliminary estimates from Nielsen Media Research, far fewer than the 5 million users who logged on for AOL's free live video streaming coverage."

I'll be very excited to see what the on-demand video usage numbers look like at the end of 6 week window that AOL has for delivering the concert footage...

Sony's new CEO fights discord at rival units

Sony's new CEO fights discord at rival units: "An early indicator of whether Mr. Stringer can instill teamwork will be the Connect service and the revamped Walkman line that is crucial to its success. Both are scheduled for a relaunch before the end of the year. Although Sony has plenty of businesses that are bigger and sicker, few reflect the current sprawl and dysfunction of the group as well as Connect."

An insightful article into the disaster that is known as Sony Connect...

KRT Wire | 07/02/2005 | Internet coverage of Live 8 concerts blows away TV

KRT Wire 07/02/2005 Internet coverage of Live 8 concerts blows away TV: "The Internet left cable in the dust. To put it bluntly, MTV sank and AOL soared."

What's that? You missed it? Have no fear, you can go and check out the whole thing on-demand at Congratulations to everyone at AOL that made this a success.

This quote from David Bauer (AP), sums it up quite nicely... "Television seemed shockingly old-fashioned in how it followed Saturday's worldwide concert for poverty relief. AOL's coverage was so superior, it may one day be seen as a historical marker in drawing people to computers instead of TV screens for big events."

Friday, July 01, 2005 - Microsoft might license Xbox software - Microsoft might license Xbox software: "The arrangements being considered are similar to those that Microsoft has employed in the past by working with other companies, including Japanese electronics makers, to install its Windows operating system in personal computers, Okabe said."

This story made me sit up and scratch my head. The battle for the living room is going to be a bloody one, and it looks like Microsoft is trying to build a Coallition of the Willing. If this actually happens, it would make Microsoft's Media Center Extender functionality the de facto standard for in-home media networking (thereby ensuring Windows role as the center of the digital media universe).