Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: The New Boss

52 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

  • Morgan Nichol,

    The problem with Torchwood is that it's... complete shit. It sort of picked up in the season final (aired a week or so ago) but too little too late. The new Dr Who continues to be great fun though, as I'm sure anyone who has seen the Christmas Special will agree. I think David Tennant is the best Dr yet.

    In fact, even the new-new spinoff, Sarah Jane Smith Adventures - even though it appears to be aimed at an even younger age group than the regular Dr Who - is more entertaining than Torchwood.

    Of course, it would help if one of the main characters wasn't a drug rapist psychopath that flies off the handle at the slightest provocation, or that all the rest of the team are almost entirely incompetent, or even that this supposedly vast secret organisation, now over a centruy old, and the last line of defence against alien marauders, is a staff of 5 in a basement in Cardiff. Uh?

    I think they really missed the mark very badly with the series.

    The iPhone though, is seriously hot. I'd love to get one, and I'm not an Apple guy at all.

    I am, however, highly suspicious that the reality of the iPhone won't be quite what the Stevenote made it out to be, never mind the cost of mobile data usage on Vodafone New Zealand, or that the only person I've heard of that has played with a unit who doesn't work at Apple revealed that many of the applications weren't functional but merely JPG mockups, no indeed - the worst thing I've heard is that the unit will actually be a closed box - i.e., it might well be running OS X (if a drastically gutted version) but you can't put your own applications on it.

    Also, Apple have a seriously bad track record in choosing decent construction materials for their units - and phones tend to get pretty rough treatment.

    I'm sure version three will deliver on all the promises, but by then I'm sure Windows Mobile will be even better than it already is (and it's pretty good in my experience) and the other phone manufacturers, who will have been given a big fright by this one, will have gone a bit further than painting their phones gold and calling them special editions.

    (Just as an aside, I wonder where this puts The Steve's claims that he'd never make another handheld, when he killed the Newton?)

    Auckland CBD • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Dominic S,

    I can envision a lot of confused viewers, especially around Cyberwoman and the finale...

    Indeed:

    "Who is this 'Jack' fellow, and why does he have an amputated hand in a jar? Why can't he be killed? What does he mean he's died before? This show is crap!"

    And with the next season of Doctor Who things are likely to become even more confusing (although I'm betting Jack'll only crossover in the final quarter of the season/finale).

    Auckland, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    It's less than a 'trick or two', I think. You can get a directory listing of all their TV shows by looking at the right directory. More details are available here. It's in FLV format, but the 300k files don't look too shabby on a CRT TV, from my experience.

    Top score! But if you can get FLV files to play in VLC you're a clever man than me. Advice, anyone, on stand-alone FLV players?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Of course, it would help if one of the main characters wasn't a drug rapist psychopath that flies off the handle at the slightest provocation, or that all the rest of the team are almost entirely incompetent, or even that this supposedly vast secret organisation, now over a centruy old, and the last line of defence against alien marauders, is a staff of 5 in a basement in Cardiff. Uh?

    All true, of course. But I still like its all-over-the-damn-place messiness. Best not to get too hung up on whether any of it makes sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Answering my own question, still no luck playing the FLV files natively, but this thing converts them quite well on the Mac:

    http://www.isquint.org/getit.php

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Barrett,

    I've had no problem getting VLC to play the FLV files - I just open them via VLC's Open File dialog. This is on a MacBook.

    Cheers

    London, UK • Since Jan 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood,

    iPhone will be a pretty niche player. It may be a large niche but that's it.

    The people that read columns like this and a moneyed few will be interested but most of the rest of the planet won't even know it exists.

    Hmmm. Like, Apple know nothing about being the second mover in pre-established markets? Don't think so. My neice (10) doesn't want an mp3 player, she wants an ipod.

    Apple's entire history consists of taking pre-existing technology, making it better (generally simpler) and then embuing it with the emotional appeal only advertising and packaging can supply.

    True, it didn't work for the Newton, so it hasn't always worked for them.

    I guess it depends what you mean by 'the moneyed few'. With [insert big number here]% of the world without any kind of phone at all, that's pretty comfortable bet-hedging.

    With a self imposed target of 1% of the market in 12 months, it'll be interesting to see. I would have thought that at the very least, making a serious mp3 player networkable would give it a significant advantage, removing all sort of links in the increasingly convoluted media chain.

    Add to that the various legions of Mac addicts and habitual tech adopters ... and people who actually just want a decent phone ... and Macintosh's history of starting at the top and trickling down to the kids ... I guess the point is that if a fraction of 'the moneyed few and people who read this collumn' end up toting iphones, it'll have done it's thing.

    So, any celebs here on the list for a show-pony freebie?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Apple's entire history consists of taking pre-existing technology, making it better (generally simpler) and then embuing it with the emotional appeal only advertising and packaging can supply.

    To nuance the above point, since Steve came back they've also done very well at picking winners in emerging hardware technologies. USB was going nowhere in a beige-box PC market until Apple made it a key part of every iMac. Similarly, Apple claimed 802.11 early by dressing it up, calling it AirPort and making it sexy.

    The other big difference with Apple is the industrial design. It actually had its own plastics synthesised for the original iMacs, and the engineering that made the current iMac enclosure possible is pretty impressive.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I've had no problem getting VLC to play the FLV files - I just open them via VLC's Open File dialog. This is on a MacBook.

    That's what it says on the VLC website too. I was a couple of point releases behind on VLC, but I updated to 0.8.6 and it works just fine now. The .mp4 file converter I mentioned is still quite handy though ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Matt Barrett,

    Right, glad that got sorted..

    I came across iSquint earlier in the week, looking for a quick'n'easy way to go from a flv (from YouTube) to a straight mp3.

    This seemed to the be Swiss Army knife of tools - ffmpegX (http://homepage.mac.com/major4/) - not surprising, given its a GUI wrapper around a set of Unix tools. I didn't have any luck getting it to do what I wanted, but its handled all the other video conversion I've thrown at.

    London, UK • Since Jan 2007 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    Apple made USB popular?

    Are you sure Russell? I got the opposite impression about USB, to me it seemed like the PC market drove USB, remember the iPod’s first few generations needed firewire to operate, which required the purchase of a PCI Firewire card in most cases. In addition a lot of the early cheap USB only printers didn't have Mac support - they were designed just for the cheap mass PC market.

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Apple made USB popular?

    Are you sure Russell?

    Pretty sure. Although it was developed by Intel, USB wasn't widely adopted until 1998, the year the first iMac was launched (and the year USB 1.1 arrived).

    People were startled at the time at how bare-assed Apple was going on it - there were no other serial or SCSI ports (and, of course, no floppy drive - your only option was to buy a USB floppy drive, which barely existed at the time).

    There was a gap of several months between the announcement and shipping, of the iMac, during which Apple promised that third parties would be delivering more peripherals - which they did, usually in candy-coloured plastics.

    There were some PC users mucking about with USB (which was a royal pain to get working in Win95), but it was Apple that forced the issue.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Josh,

    Advice, anyone, on stand-alone FLV players?

    there is this plugin (http://perian.org/) for quicktime that allows it to play FLV clips. not stand-alone i guess, but it works fine.

    CHCH • Since Nov 2006 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I guess it depends what you mean by 'the moneyed few'. With [insert big number here]% of the world without any kind of phone at all, that's pretty comfortable bet-hedging.

    I guess I'm really responding to the "everyone" will want one theory thats been touted. Its simply not true. I think the 1% (of the phone market...thats a massive number), based on the pricing, the cingular tie, the name (or lack of..how long is that court case gonna last?), and, from what I read, the closed box nature of the device, is a tough call.

    Really, MP3 player penetration and / or Mac usage in any territory is of little relevance, this is primarily a phone, and on that it stands or falls. And making it networkable is largely irrelevant. It has to be a phone that plays MP3s well, not the other way around, to make any real dent.

    MP3 player / iPod & your niece...my daughter came home from school before Xmas and asked if she could get a Zen, as it was the current device denoting cool at her school. It all depends where you are.

    That said, I want one too.....

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Austin,

    The iPhone (Apple version) does look pretty cool, and the buzz amongst my tech literate friends is that they want one. Personally, even though I've been a Apple consumer for some time (used Macs at School/Uni, have an ibook/ipod) I think I'll pass on this.

    I'm not convinced that a pure touch screen is something I'd want to use for a phone. Further, the battery life on quite simple colour/camera/multimedia phones is already rather rubbish, and since I've heard of no revolutionary battery advances in the last 5 years that have been commercialised I can safely assume the iPhone will go flat rather quickly.

    Until battery technology markedly improves I'll probably stick to simple, focused devices that do their specialised job well and last a long time. I don't need a converged device (although web surfing last night on the Wii was kind of neat...)

    London • Since Nov 2006 • 1027 posts Report Reply

  • Josh,

    whoops, link for the Perian Quicktime plugin i posted above doesn't work (incorporates the bracket into the link address for some reason). try this link instead. I should mention that it is a Mac-only plugin, but that might be obvious.

    CHCH • Since Nov 2006 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Scoones,

    Although I'm sure Prime will be disappointed at losing out on Torchwood to TVNZ, the connections between Torchwood and Doctor Who are not so overt that viewers who watch one but not the other will be too confused. Although both series are set within the same universe and feature a few overlapping characters and situations, Doctor Who in particular is not at all dependent on viewers watching Torchwood. The BBC has deliberately structured the two series in this way because Torchwood is aimed at an exclusively adult audience, featuring swearing, sex, blood and guts - all of which are taboo on family-friendly Doctor Who. There are references to Torchwood seeded throughout various episodes of Doctor Who, but these were largely explained and resolved in __Doctor Who__’s second series two-part finale.

    Auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I'm betting Jack'll only crossover in the final quarter of the season/finale

    According to Wikipedia, he's in it for the last three episodes.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    According to Wikipedia, he's in it for the last three episodes.

    Wikipedia knows the __future?__Woah.

    But seriously, I get the impression that Doctor Who production knowledge is a distinctly tradeable commodity.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The TVNZ induction video is quite funny.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    "Who is this 'Jack' fellow, and why does he have an amputated hand in a jar? Why can't he be killed? What does he mean he's died before? This show is crap!"

    I watched the whole of Torchwood without realising that the hand in the jar was related to Doctor Who. It wasn't until after the finale when I was reading the Wikipedia episode guide that I discovered the significance of the hand.

    But not knowing that didn't spoil my enjoyment of Torchwood. The whole series was full of mysterious secrets and so much is yet to be revealed that it doesn't really matter if one Doctor Who crossover isn't known - the plot certainly wasn't reliant on it.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    , never mind the cost of mobile data usage on Vodafone New Zealand,

    Also note that the info released thus far says that to get better than bog-standard GSM requires a WiFi network. No EDGE, no GPRS. Which will make the web browsing experience somewhat suboptimal in most of NZ.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • rodgerd,

    and people who actually just want a decent phone

    If you just want a decent phone, why the hell would you buy an iPhone? It's about as far from a basic phone as you can get.

    Main drawback to the iPhone I'm seeing is the fact that reviews I've seen of real units say the texting interface is not good. While smug middle-aged men in turtlenecks (Hi Steve!) may think a tiny QWERTY keyboard is better than the mainstream way of sending SMS, I suspect the teens and young adults of the world may disagree.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 512 posts Report Reply

  • Kevin Waugh,

    Since I wrote it, a member of the public has also picked up karaokehigh.co.nz. Duh.

    Oh that would be me then.
    It was one of those big red button moments - you know the ones - a big red flashing button...
    On Nat Radio Justin Gregory (I think) asked TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis about why the KaraokeHigh.co.nz domain had not been purchased and he said he imagined it has been purchased and then talked about owning the rights. Fiona Rey called it decidedly ‘half assed’ not to have grabbed it. Now since this was probably a prerecorded interview and I was sitting at the computer I just had a look and there it was STILL [cue big red button moment].
    $29.95 lighter and it was mine. Not a big investment.

    Didn’t end there though. Here’s some of the trip:

    1/ Purchased the domain KaraokeHigh.co.nz

    2/ I realised this could be framed as cybersquating - so checked and saw that there was no trademark on Karaoke High - and so to protect my backside I put in an application for a trademarks on Karaoke High (Class 41, and narrowed to entertainment websites). Very easy on the web, took 30min (most of that time was looking for my credit card to lose another $100).

    3/ Oh I also picked up the domain Khigh.co.nz guessing that it would sooner or later become the short form – and having spent $130 I was starting to not think of it as protest action, so what was another $29.95.

    4/ Feeling a little uneasy about this vast expenditure however, I had 2.5 goals in mind as I played.

    First, was a personal learning trip - what would happen and how does the law work around domain names and trademark. The same sort of curiosity that wrecks quite perfectly functioning toys. I was learning already.

    Second, this was perhaps I should use this as a learning trip for TVNZ – along the lines of “this should push the issue and get some process in place”. When Rick Ellis talks about ‘rights’ he needs to think beyond copywrite and have a full prophylactic package of protection against rose buds like me. If they can’t do it in NZ how will they go in the big wide world?

    And half a thought was money. Can’t deny it. Getting my money back would be great (as in; phew!).

    I did the next big red button thing and chucked it up on trademe – just before xmas – silly me. This did get me a call from a solicitor (called himself solicitor general) for TVNZ and we debated the issues – in dictation speech slow motion manner. And debatable it is/was. He took my email address and I didn’t hear back. I did also hear from the guy who also tried to buy it, but was 8min too late. He sounded interesting.

    Now… Hmmm… I’m really not sure what I should do with it. Its there to sell or toy with a bit more I guess.

    Whangarei • Since Dec 2006 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    The TVNZ induction video is quite funny.

    Russell, you're an old cynic.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.