Beijing - television's last "take it or leave it" Olympic coverage?
By Adam TURNER
Hopefully by 2012, multi-channelling and the internet will let Australians watch the Olympics the way it suits them, rather than the way it suits the television networks.
Australia's Seven network has confirmed that it won't be using its high definition channel to show extra events during this month's Olympic games - what you see on the SD and HD channels will be exactly the same. Thankfully Seven has continued its Olympics coverage deal with SBS, so viewers will still have some choice.
Under the agreement, Seven will have exclusive coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies, track and field, swimming, rowing, cycling and gymnastics and will also provide coverage of "other sports featuring Australians". SBS will broadcast complementary coverage likely to focus on long-form events such as football, road cycling, volleyball and table tennis.
In other words, Seven's coverage will be for patriots with short attention spans while SBS will get the scraps. Thankfully between them they'll apparently broadcast 800 hours of Olympic coverage. You'll also get some of Seven's coverage on Next G mobile phones, plus there'll be 100 hours of streaming from Yahoo!7 - but these will most likely just be Seven's telecast reformatted rather than extra coverage. It's also unclear how much of the online and mobile coverage will be live.
By the time the London games roll around in 2012, hopefully we'll see a very different media landscape. Australia's television networks will be allowed to multi-channel in standard definition digital as of 2009, so hopefully the practice will be well entrenched by 2012. By then we should be in the final stages of phasing out analogue broadcasts.
The Nine Network and Foxtel have jointly won the broadcast rights to the 2012 London Olympics and the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and are promising Australia's most comprehensive Olympic coverage ever - across free to air, subscription, internet and mobile.
Multi-channelling should force networks to completely reconsider the way they televise events such as the Olympics, from a content, advertising and broadcast rights perspective. Unfortunately Nine's deal with Foxtel means Nine is unlikely to multi-cast the Games in 2012 and the extra channels will be locked away on pay TV. Even so, the takeup of PVRs such TiVo and iQ2 will give viewers far greater control over what they watch and when they watch it. The idea of networks dictating what screens in our lounge rooms should be fading by 2012, although they'll obviously continue to fight tooth and nail against such threats to their power.
Along with multi-channelling, the rise of internet television will revolutionise the way we watch the Olympics - fuelled by improved broadband speeds. If we get our act together on the National Broadband Network, hopefully major sports in 2012 will have their own dedicated online channels so die-hard fans can catch every minute of every event. It's already happening in other countries but, as usual, Australia lags behind.
For a taste of what Australia's 2012 Olympic coverage might offer, you can look to what NBC is doing this year for Beijing. An impressive 3,600 hours of coverage will be seen on seven free to air and cable NBC Universal networks: NBC, USA, MSNBC, CNBC, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD, as well as NBCOlympics.com. Of this 2,200 hours of this will be via NBCOlympics.com, which claims to be offering the first live online Olympic coverage in the United States. Unfortunately, due to the fact NBC is in bed with Microsoft, it looks like the content will only be available to Windows Vista users.
In the UK, the BBC has also embraced multi-channelling and the internet. The BBC is broadcasting 300 hours of coverage of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games this year on BBC One and BBC Two, plus 2,450 hours on its BBCi digital interactive channel. Online, Brits will be able to choose from six streaming channels showing coverage from BBC TV and BBC interactive.
Seven's deals with SBS, Yahoo!7 and Telstra Next G are obviously steps in the right direction, but they still seem like token efforts compared to what viewers getting in other countries. It will be interesting to see how the media landscape changes by 2012.
|| 1 feedback »||Permalink|
Mac's back in the enterprise, says analyst
By Stephen WITHERS
If your experience is anything like mine, you'll have noticed the growth in the number of corporate-looking types wielding MacBooks in coffee shops, on aircraft, and at conferences.
According to Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio, "[business] adoption and acceptance of Mac hardware and operating system software are growing at a steady and sustained pace not seen since the late 1980s."
A new Yankee Group survey of "750 global IT administrators and C-level executives found that nearly four out of five businesses... have Mac sand the OS X operating system installed in their networks."
So it's not just a question of buyers liking Apple's hardware specs but choosing to run Windows or Linux.
We're not, it seems, talking about one or two Macs being allowed in to cater for designers and other 'traditional' (stereotypical?) Mac users: "Nearly one-quarter, or close to 25%, of the survey respondents have a significant number - greater than 30 or 50 - of Apple Macs and OS X 10.x OS software present in their corporate networks."
But I'm not sure about some of the reasons the DiDio puts forward as an explanation for the adoption of Macs growing at a "pace not seen since the late 1980s."
Safari? If that were true, wouldn't the takeup of Safari for Windows be higher than it is?
iChat? Maybe, but Microsoft's instant messaging solution seems to be widely used in businesses, and iChat doesn't (as far as I know) interoperate with that.
FileVault? Yes, I'll pay that one. People are becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect data on devices that are carried around. And Apple did the right thing by providing a 'master' password for administrators in case the individual user forgets theirs or abruptly leaves the organisation.
Time Machine? No, that's really a personal backup facility. While it can be used in conjunction with Mac OS X Server, I reckon features such as de-duplication are needed before it becomes relevant to most businesses.
A "much faster search engine" (Spotlight)? Perhaps. Desktop search is increasingly important, and decent performance on current hardware and software means Spotlight can't be considered a mark against Apple.
Embedded virtualisation capabilities? I'm not sure what DeDio has in mind there. Presumably it's a reference to Boot Camp (but that's for dual booting, not virtualisation) or possibly to third-party virtualisation products such as Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion, which allow the use of guest operating systems such as Windows or Linux 'inside' Mac OS X.
Back to My Mac? Well, maybe, But my experience is that this feature is a bit fussy about the local routers at each end of the connection. Some people will point to the fact that it requires a $119 MobileMe subscription, but that's cheaper than using GoToMyPC ($US179 per year, falling to $126 per year if more than 20 systems are licensed), and MobileMe includes a bunch of other features.
So why do I think more and more businesses are installing Macs? The move from Windows XP to Vista represents a major change, so people are looking around and considering the alternatives. This is leading to a new wave of pockets of Mac use within organisations.
The real test will be whether those experiments spread to other parts of the business.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
iPhone Apps and Updates
By Anthony CARUANA
After a couple of weeks of iPhone use, trying out a bunch of different apps and finding out where the holes in the iPhone OS lie I've come to the conclusion that the iPhone might be a hit in some areas but it's a miss in others.
Until the 250MB that came yesterday, stability was a miss - a big enough one for one pundit to call iPhone 2.0 a beta release. Strong words but given that i could crash Safari almost at will it wasn't far off the mark. Thankfully the update seems to have fixed whatever bug that was.
The update has supposedly made the iPhone faster but I think what's really happened is that Apple has sped up some of the OS animations to give the illusion of speed. For example, the zoom in and out effects when you launch apps and navigate to the home screen are faster. However, I'm not convinced that actual app performance is faster.
On the upside, I'm really enjoying trolling through the App Store. I've downloaded a few free apps and purchased a few commercial apps. One of my faves is FileMagnet. This program overcomes one of the iPhone's biggest shortcomings - the lack of an accessible file system. Thanks to a reader of last week's post for pointing this out to me.
FileMagnet allows you to copy files to your iPhone over WiFi. As long as you Mac (there's no PC version yet) is on the same WiFi network as the iPhone you can push files to it. It even works if you create an ad hoc network between the iPhone and Mac.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|
Big Brother or Spooks - what's your viewing pleasure?
By David HAGUE
It's been interesting reading lately seeing the differing reactions to the axing, commissioning and extending of various TV programs. Big Brother and Sunday have been axed as has Nightline, Sea Patrol, the Gruen Transfer and Hollowmen have had new series' commissioned and there are a bucketload of new Aussie based dramas in production or pre-production.
Personally, I don't give a flying fig for rubbish like BB, Sea Patrol makes me gag with its unlikely plot lines and characters and I prefer Lateline to Nightline any day. The Gruen Transfer was excellent, both as entertainment and as a serious look at the machinations of advertising, and Hollowmen - well, Working Dog can do no wrong can they?
However, there are many who disagree with me, particularly when it comes to BB, claiming that it was "riveting" or "entertaining". Other programs that have no creative merit at all (in my opinion at least) include "The Farmer Wants a Wife", "America's Next Top Model", "Judge Judy", "The One" and other similar crap.
So why are they on? Why is there not more serious drama or quality entertainment?
The simple answer is money. These shows are as cheap as chips to make. Take Judge Judy for example. Build a set of cardboard, throw in a few lights and a camera and presto! Even the talent is mostly free. The fact that the whole thing is concocted codswallop is neither here nor there as the punters lap up the storyline in the same way that Jerry Springer does in a different format but same basic substance.
Voyeurism also comes into play (BB, The Farmer ..., America's Next ... etc), where either titillation - or the hope there of - plays a major part.
Quality, sadly, costs. If you have watched Dr Who and the accompanying Confidential series, you can see the incredible amount of work, personnel, equipment and time that goes into such things, and traditionally, only networks like the ABC and BBC have been "brave" enough to take on such projects. And don't forget they get nothing back in advertising revenue and have to rely on selling programs to other networks. They are very much a long term investment. I remember an interview with Lenny Henry who says he still gets cheques from the BBC 10 years later for something like €5 for repeats still being shown in Lichtenstein or something.
About 12 years ago, I made a pilot on the beginnings of the Internet and consumer tech that was initially intended for the 10 network. In the end they declined, so it was punted around the other networks. Vividly, I remember the senior programmer from one of them saying "bring me a package of 3 months (12 shows) and a million bucks in advertising support, and we'll talk!"
So what must "big" dramas such as "Spooks" cost?
Effectively, TV stations are now purely broadcasters, not program creators and don't even sell basic advertising anymore. Of course today, sans KP, Channel Nine specifically is even less so; they are an "investment". They are playing safe and leaving the creation of programs to specialist companies (and the accompanying risk). The circle goes around - they will make the cheapest they can to subject themselves to the smallest exposure of possible failure.
A potential saviour here is Channel 31. If you have any interest in serious film-making, want to learn about or expand on your production abilities, checkout the websites in the various states. You may not know, but this is how such luminaries as Rove McManus and Eric Bana started this very way!
|| 1 feedback »||Permalink|
Heading to the US? Be careful what's hiding in your digital luggage!
By Ian GRAYSON
As if the torturous entry processes at US airports weren't enough already. As well as being scanned, photographed and interviewed, travellers now face the prospect of officials trawling through their electronic files.
Changes to US regulations now mean incoming visitors must allow access to everything from their notebook PC to external storage devices and even their iPod.
As well as the prospect of someone finding that embarrassing playlist of ABBA singles, the new rules allow officials to take and keep your notebook PC for as long as they feel like. They can even copy all the data stored on it and share it with other law enforcement authorities.
It’s not clear what will trigger a digital shakedown but you can guarantee that, if selected, you’ll probably miss any connecting flights. There’s no limit to the time that can be taken to delve into your disk drive.
When we’re dealing with a country as deeply paranoid and fearful as the United States, such searches come as little surprise. But, let’s be honest, who the heck do they think they are going to catch?
No terrorist or criminal with half a brain is going to march through a customs check with sensitive information stored on their person. Why bother, when files can easily be accessed via the internet once safely inside the country?
The only thing these new spot searches will do is further erode the rights and privacy of normal law-abiding travellers. Just as the random body searches and invasive luggage checks have dehumanised the activity of air travel, so these new procedures will make the whole process even less appealing.
So, before heading off on that next business trip to the US, consider whether you need to pack a notebook PC at all. Storing all your needed files online and accessing them remotely may mean you can avoid this latest round of invasive rubbish.
After all, anything that gets you out of a US airport faster has to be worth considering.
|| Send feedback »||Permalink|