First Experience: Netflix on Tivo HD

Yesterday my HD Tivo received the fall update which includes support for Netflix video on demand. I have to say that it is really well done from the user experience to the quality of the video itself. For a detailed description of how it works, what I thought of the quality, and a few of my suggestions please read on. Read the rest of this entry »


Why 3D TV Technology is Coming

This post is a response to Stacey Higginbotham’s article on GigaOM entitled Why 3-D TV Technology Is All Hype. In her article she points out that the Electronic Technology Center’s efforts are aimed at testing compatability for content creators, not designing a consumer standard, and without a consumer standard you can’t watch 3D at home. She’s right that more work needs to be done, but she’s missing some of the existing technology and some of the current efforts, that will make 3D in the home a reality. My prediction is that you’ll have viable consumer options for playing 3D movies at home within 18 months. Read on to see where I’m coming from.

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How Many Cores Do We Need?

Anwar Ghuloum is a Principal Engineer with Intel’s Microprocessor Technology Lab, and recently wrote a blog post titled Unwelcome Advice. He proposes that developers should start thinking now about using hundreds or thousands of cores.This has gotten some web coverage at places like slashdot.

In the film industry we do have many problems that parallelize very well. Physical simulations is one example that people are often familiar with using parallel processing. Rendering is an extremely good example because we can often get parallelism not only within a single image, but because a film is made up of many images, we get additional parallelization by processing multiple images at the same time. My company, Digital Ordnance, builds a high performance image capture and play back system. We take advantage of both CPU and GPU parallelism quite heavily in our systems.

But, the thing that struck me about the post, is that concept that large numbers of cores are applicable to a wide audience. I’m really not convinced that’s true.

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Social Networking Overload

The onslaught of invitations for social networks is really starting to get to me. My friends have joined a variety of different trust, social, content sharing networks. They pick whatever ones they think work best for them. The problem is that I don’t want to join all of them to keep up with them.

Worse than that, I generally don’t want to share all my social activities with everyone I’ve ever met, even on one social network. Maybe that makes me weird, but I don’t tink clients I do business with, need to see pictures from a party I’ve thrown.Maybe only my family should see pictures of my father in the hospital. No social network I’ve joined (and has enough of my connections to be useful) let’s me control what type of contact the person is and easily give them different access rights.

The reality is that I have a real collection of contacts on Linked-In. I’ve found it useful for keeping track of where people I know are currently working and it gives me their current email address so I can reach them. I don’t tend to long on to Linked-In very regularly. Basically I go there when I’m looking up a contact, when someone I know sends me an invitation, and every once in a while to look for new contacts I might have missed. Of course, it’s easier to let them come to me, than it is to chase them down.

All the interest in Facebook got me to join that as well. Now I get a duplicate set of friend requests. Then I also get a ton of requests to be a vampire, ninja, warewolf, race car, etc. Those are big time wasters. All the fun boards etc seem to show is silly content.  My front page has gotten so huge with everyone’s updates that it isn’t really managable. I read today that Facebook is coming up with a new interface, but I think that misses the point. I’m not sure organizing the junk is really worth it.

Rather than just bitching, what do I want? Well I think linked-in basically works. It stays out of my way. It has useful information I can reference. It isn’t too hard to deal with the updates. I think we need a good single sign on system so I don’t have to register with every service out there. Instead I use my single sign on, and your service sets up my account automatically the first time I try to use it. Single sign on also lets me create one friend network. Now when I connect to a new service it knows who my friends are and connects them up autoatically according to a user preference. With those changes, everything gets simpler and more useful for the user. Then my final request would be for services to do a small number of things really well, instead of trying to be the wrapper around everything. Then I can decide what features I want to use, and all my friends can see my content without having to join. Personally, I’d probably stick to a few things like a blog and photo/video sharing, but that’s my choice. if you want to play all the Facebook games, then you can join that too.

I think that would make the world of social networking much easier to deal with, and more flexible. It does go against the money flow. Getting everyone locked in to one service that all your friends are on, is really about extracting the dollars. My suggestion would spread the cash around, so developers won’t like that as much.


Fios HD After Switching to Tivo HD

Tivo LogoI had a question on my last post about how things have been since I ditched the Fios HD DVR and switched to to the HD Tivo. I thought that was worth another post. Read the rest of this entry »


Goodbye DVR hello Tivo HD

Tivo LogoToday is the day that I returned the FIOS DVRs and set up my HD Tivo. The continual problems I’ve had with the DVR and the realization that the cost was almost identical over three years pushed me over the edge. The single biggest issue was that the Fios DVR would flat out fail to record programs.

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O.M.G. the new I.M.G.

Verizon LogoI had hoped to cover the workings of the Motorola 6416 HD DVR as my next installment, but since it has taken me a while to get back to it, Verizon has released the new interactive media guide. It appears that it replaced the software for not only the guide, but the DVR itself. The guide itself is much improved, but alas the DVR has gotten substantially worse.

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Without a Guide a DVR is just a VCR

Verizon LogoIn my opinion, the biggest difference that a DVR makes in your viewing habits is that it allows you to ignore when a particular show airs and instead just indicate the shows you want to watch. This is often called time-shifting in the industry, shifting the time that you watch a particular program, but I’d argue it’s more than that. This article discusses the Verizon interactive program guide that is key to a DVRs ability to operate.

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 Verizon LogoMy previous post talked about my very positive switch to FIOS for my internet service. This post discusses FIOS TV, which has been a much more mixed experience.

For the last three years, I’ve been getting my TV service from DirecTV. It’s easy and convenient. They have a lot of different programming packages. I tend to stick to the enhanced, but non-premium packages. So for $60/month I had their plus package with a DirecTivo. While that worked well enough, I couldn’t see paying another $10/month for HDTV, and replacing my Tivo particularly with how bad DirecTV compresses their HD. DirecTV is adverting that they will have more than 100 HD channels by the end of the year. The problem is that there aren’t that many HD channels out there even if you assume several new ones pop up this year. So how are they going to do it? The only way they can do it is by counting all the sports channels (their Direct Ticket packages) in their 100 channels. Those are channels I don’t care about. So I decided to give FIOS TV a try.

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Verizon LogoThis is going to be the first in a series of blog posts on my experiences with Verizon FIOS. I switched my internet connection a while back.

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