Freeview infects PlayStation 3's PlayTV
By Adam TURNER
Why is Sony pandering to Freeview and disabling PVR features on Australian PS3?
Australians have been looking forward to the PlayStation 3's PlayTV digital tuner for a long time and I'm glad it's finally here, turning a PlayStation 3 into a Personal Video Recorder. The PlayTV tuner, along with compatibility with the ABC's iView and Sony's video on demand services, certainly make the PS3 a very attractive option as the heart of a digital lounge room. So why is Sony screwing over PS3 users by disabling features like ad-skipping to appease the free-to-air broadcasters?
The Freeview campaign in Australia is a con job, designed to trick people into thinking they need to buy digital television gear with the Freeview logo in order to access everything digital television has to offer. That's just not true. All the Freeview logo means is that ad-skipping has been disabled, fast forwarding has been restricted to 30x and simple methods to copy recordings off the device have been removed.
I can understand why TiVo disabled ad-skipping in Australia, it's controlled by a major television network in Seven. But why does Sony need to buy into the Freeview myth by disabling features in order to get the Freeview logo? TiVo is aimed at mainstream consumers who have fallen for the Freeview line and think the Freeview logo is important. Anyone who owns a PlayStation 3 and a PlayTV is probably tech-savvy enough to know that Freeview is a con job and you don't need the Freeview logo to access everything digital TV has to offer. So why has Sony screwed over loyal customers to obtain a certification that we all know is useless? It's got nothing to do with the right to use the EPG embedded in the broadcast signal, as there are plenty of non-Freeview devices which do this.
Here are a few laughable quotes on the subject of Freeview coming to the PlayStation 3;
"Consumers can have what they want and how they want it in the home and on the go for free," Sony Computer Entertainment Australia managing director, Michael Ephraim said.
"We’re all about providing people more at Freeview and this fits with PlayTV as it also gives consumers a choice and a new world of home entertainment with digital TV," Freeview CEO Robin Parkes said.
Freeview is nothing but a marketing campaign - you're not getting anything new, you're actually losing features. Freeview is not about providing "more" or "choice", it's about control.
What's really laughable is that it's simple to bypass all the Freeview restrictions on the PlayTV. There's a great guide to the PlayTV on Whirlpool which is worth a read. The latest PlayTV software version is 1.21. Take care if Sony releases another update, as it may try to enforce the Freeview restrictions.
If Sony had any respect for PlayStation 3 owners it wouldn't buy into Australia's great TV swindle.
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New round of updates
By Stephen WITHERS
The software gnomes have been busy in Cupertino.
Shortly after my last post was published, Apple released Java for Mac OS X 10.6 Update 1 and Java for Mac OS X 10.5 Update 6 with various "reliability, security, and compatibility" improvements.
Still using 10.4 or (gulp) 10.3? Tough. The rule of thumb is that updates are only provided for the current and previous versions of the operating system.
Yesterday saw the arrival of a set of firmware updates and a fix for certain AirPort problems.
There's MacBook EFI Firmware Update 1.4 and MacBook Pro EFI Firmware Update 1.8, both designed to eliminate the noise made by the optical disk drive during system startup and wake from sleep.
To actually get rid of the noise, you'll need SuperDrive Firmware Update 3.0 as well, which also works with iMac EFI Firmware Update 1.4 and Mac mini EFI Firmware Update 1.2.
As with all firmware updates, read the instructions carefully.
Some people might think a bit of unnecessary disk noise isn't worth worrying about, but others find that grinding sound disturbing. I can live with it if I have to (not that my iMac is one of the affected models), but I'd rather not.
AirPort Client Update 2009-002 addresses more serious issues - the inability to turn AirPort on or off (after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.6), the occasional dropped connection when using Wake on Demand, and the inability to create an ad hoc network or a shared Internet connection on certain MacBooks, MacBook Pros and Mac minis.
There has been grumbling in some quarters about AirPort ever since Snow Leopard arrived, so let's hope this update does the trick for those affected.
Software Update will automatically fetch the updates you need (you may have to run it more than once as an EFI update is a prerequisite for the SuperDrive update), or you can grab the files from Software Downloads.
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Kindle's lost opportunity
By Anthony CARUANA
I've been using an Amazon Kindle for the last week or so and I am totally sold on the product. Not only has it made reading far more accessible for me but it highlights how old world markets are being turned on their head by new technology. I'd not be surprised to see Amazon do for books what Apple's iTunes Store has done for music. However, I think that there's a missed opportunity.
People love to talk about the books they read. I'm currently rattling my way through Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. Sure, they may not be the best written stories around but they are fairly engaging and as the father of a 12 year old daughter I like to read what she's reading. As I was walking around the office today, I saw someone else reading a book only to discover we were reading from the same series. That became a conversation that i'm sure will continue over the coming days.
Amazon is well placed to become the iPod and iTunes Store of books. With their always-connected mode it should be possible to let readers know when someone near them is reading the same book. Sharing comments, reviews and other story-related communications could be facilitated from within the reader creating a virtual book club.
Amazon already has an extensive database of reader reviews. Wouldn't it be great if the Kindle could put you in touch with a recent reviewer if they were online while you were reading so you could discuss the book?
Social networks work when they link people with common interests. Reading is perhaps the world's most popular past-time so it makes sense that a global social netwrok could form around the kindle and the way it brings readers together.
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Blu-ray need to be below $100 for HD to take off
By David HAGUE
About 12 years ago, a client of mine in a different life (I was primarily a web developer back then) told me his hobby was video editing. He shot his own footage on an 8mm camera and used an Amiga computer and some software for editing. He proudly explained he had managed to cut around 12 seconds the night before.
I had been sideways involved in this sort of thing a few years earlier, but on a professional level, writing and directing the footage for creation of video training on Microsoft Products – Windows 95 and Office 95 using Betacam systems. I could sympathise with him. It was a painstaking job requiring dedication and a good eye and lots and lots of patience.
About a year later, I had a little play with a black box whose name totally escapes me, but effectively it combined it connected itself to an 8mm camera, a PC and a remote controlled VCR to do much the same thing. You would go through your footage marking in and out points, transitions and so on, and then the black box would control the transport controls of the camera and VCR to record the tape to a VHS cassette in the correct order of clips, digitally captured music etc. It was simplistic, but effective and I could edit a two hour church service in around the same time.
When digital cameras came into vogue and a decent price point, the whole game changed; now anyone could do it with just a computer, DVD burner and a DV camera. But it strikes me that as it gets easier and easier to edit footage, less and less people seem to be?
And I fear that trend will continue. Cameras that can shoot high definition – true 1080p – are literally around $300 these days, and while you pay for what you get obviously, the footage now able to be viewed on HDMI compatible TVs is better than we have ever seen.
But until the price of Blu-ray burners comes down the way the DVD burners did, and that means under $100, the hobby is still a little expensive I fear. This means the majority of footage will be shot by the iPod set and most of it never seen. And that would be a tragedy for future generations.
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If you think you’re mobile’s indispensible now ... just wait
By Ian GRAYSON
It’s long since surpassed the credit card as the one thing you wouldn’t leave home without, but if industry predictions are correct, the humble mobile handset will soon play an even more important role in our lives.
Think about what you use your handset for already. Mine is my contact book, my diary, my calculator, my email inbox, my FM radio, my store of podcasts and my mobile web browser.
But within the next 24 months, there are a host of other mobile features set to become daily tools. If only even half of them actually eventuate, handset will morph into something even more powerful.
According to the crystal ball gazers at Gartner there are at least 10 mobile applications that will become mainstream by 2012.
Some of them are not surprising. They include things like mobile browsing, search, instant messaging and music. These things already exist on phones, but work is needed to make the interfaces much easier to use.
Gartner also identifies mobile money transfers and payments as an emerging area. This makes sense as it combines the enhanced security offered by mobiles with the convenience of not having to carry money. It will take effort to convince retailers and banks of the worth of working together, but the benefits to customers will be significant.
Another on the list is location-based services. Here a lot of the pieces are already in place – it’s just a matter of getting them to work together more easily. Growing numbers of handsets have GPS and maps. Linking this with attractive retail offerings (discount coupons when you walk past the shop for example) could have a dramatic effect on commerce.
A final one is mobile health monitoring. Here again, things are in an infancy, but as more applications are devised that can run on mobile devices, the more pervasive such monitor could become.
It all adds up to a future where making voice calls on your mobile will seem almost incidental.
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