HD1080i De-mystify HDTV 1080i ::: know why before you buy

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Digital TV is an Entitlement for every American


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate approved legislation on Wednesday that would complete the country’s transition to new, higher-quality digital television by February 17, 2009.
Up to $1.5 billion would be available to help some consumers buy converter boxes so existing analog televisions do not go dark when broadcasters air only digital signals.
The digital television measure was part of a bill aimed at cutting government spending over five years which narrowly cleared the Senate after Vice President Dick Cheney, in his role as president of the Senate, voted for the cuts and broke a 50-50 tie.
The U.S. House of Representatives backed the measure on Monday but it must go back to the House because of other changes to the bill before being sent to President George W. Bush for signature into law.
But that may not happen this year. A House spokeswoman said the chamber currently had no plans to bring members back to Washington before late January.
Current law requires stations to switch to airing only digital broadcasts when 85 percent of the country can receive the new signals, or by December 31, 2006, whichever comes later. Experts have said that could take a long time, prompting lawmakers to seek a more certain date.
Congress is eager for broadcasters to give up the analog airwaves, some of which will be sold for commercial wireless services. Congress has earmarked almost $7.4 billion of the likely proceeds to go toward deficit reduction.
Broadcasters estimate there are 73 million television sets in American homes not hooked up to cable or satellite services and that rely on over-the-air broadcasts. Boxes that would convert digital signals back into analog could cost roughly $50, according to industry estimates

You just have to love your elected officials.

A.P.: WASHINGTON Nov 18, 2005 — The House on Friday backed a plan to require television broadcasters to switch to all-digital transmissions by December 2008, three months earlier than they would have to under provisions of a Senate bill.
House lawmakers also voted to set aside $830 million to help millions of Americans with older, analog TV sets pay for converter boxes so they'll continue to get service in the digital era.

--"House Republicans have said they don't expect wealthier Americans to request coupons for the boxes, and they expect the $830 million would cover those homes that really need help. "

Yikes... people in high places making massive changes to bring "The Upgrade to Digital Living" momentum into full swing. ( DSMJ is not complaining, we plan to be doing some of the PSA's you will see on that ) and this paves the way for High Definition TV to have a strong foothold in the finest of entertainment delivery.

HOW big is all this? Cisco Systems just started a deal to BUY Scientific Altanta, one of the largest and best suppliers of digital cable set-top converters... for a measly 6 billion, in cash and stock. Cisco knows exactly how to build nice quality low-cost digital transmission equipment, and it is likely that this webpage you see now, went through several Cisco routers and switchers before making its way to your computer screen. Verizon and others are quietly laying down thousands of miles of fiber optic right now ( there is a bundle on my street and i live in southern NH, way up north where cows still graze )... the infrastructure for Over-the-air high speed wireless and optical cable digital is surrounding us and will meet and exceed that of Cell Phone ubiquity.

Right now plants are being constructed in the pacific rim and pan-asia in final build-out for manufacturing large low-cost digital HDTV and wide screen monitors... some are capable of making many thousands of new digital TV's per day.

If you are in digital broadcasting then you will soon see the FCC auction off new broadcast spectrum ( think gigahertz ) for billions, so a measly 830 million is a pittance compared to what the FCC expects to collect in the near future.

If all this chatter seems like mumbo-jargonized big-word baloney that goes over your head...
then thats ok, because literally it will be overhead and made so simple that you dont need to know all that much to get the benefits.

However/ and there always is a "however" to consider...
this new digital TV era will need a push, so expect to see evidence of that quite soon, and keep in mind that for you to use it, new terms will creep into your vocabulary, new opportunity is right in your face.

It is important to know that 100's of billions in profits exist for billions in up-front investment, so this is in the hands of those that have that much money and resource, but all you probably will care about is that you can get a Coupon to get a free digital tuner for your current TV set, whatever type that may be. Much of what you want to see will be a subscriber-based access control for much of what is available, and probably 1000 channels to choose from in a totally chaotic overload of stuff that caters to every niche market there is. I'm so loving it. Watch channel 134 (adelphia digital) Fine Living network. All this is full of little gems of new stuff to dicsover, advertizers get a much better bang for the buck in targeted marketing value.

This will come at the cost of some of your privacy, since in the new digital paradigm, each end-point has a physical address that allows for two-way information passage. This is good, lets you buy stuff and selectively choose to pay for only what you desire, but it means they can monitor your viewing behavior when such features are engaged, much in the way a website can determine that you came and saw a page and then chose a link with a click of the mouse.
In my opinion the cost-benefits for the consumer are enormous, and content producers have to improve what they offer to capture and retain your attention.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

DRM = Digital Rights Management

Today's GBU ( Good Bad & Ugly)
is on Sony/BMG about music, but this impacts quite lot -- by implication, since it is a Microsoft issue with more ugly bugs than a south-african termite mound.

HUH? DRM? BUGS on Music CD's?

Some CD's you can buy in the store have software on them, for protecting the music on the CD.
Usually that special "feature" is labeled on the outside of the CD, but do not count on it.
They install on first use of the CD in a PC or home computer, and serve to control how the music on a CD is used . That product is called XCP and it installs 1 megabyte of software in your PC and hides it with a rootkit. The DRM PC rootkit idea was to prevent you from making casual "ok here you go" copies of Sony music and giving to friends who should be buying thier own copy. is this a real problem now? ... only sort-of. The impacted titles in the XCPDRM rootkit release are essentially lame. But the test of this XCP launch is a serious crash and burn for BMG/epic/columbia as the viral engines of bad news spread the planet with fear that some hacker will exploit the rootkit and use it for other nefarious purposes.

HOW? What is this Software on my Music CD?

A hidden, hard to find and defeat, cloaked system checker that has to monitor all system use to determine if music/video content is in use and being copied without authorization.

Problem. Copies are usually made on a Personal Computer. The one you buy stuff in the internet with, the one you do your homework on, the system you rely on to do personal banking and finance. Even the US Govt specifically stated 2 weeks ago that content protection should not include personal computer system invasion. First4Internet wrote the XCP DRM player, is based in the UK, and thier code is sloppy enough to scare the rest of the planet. Sony/BMG's mistake was to trust them.

Bigger Problem: this cloaking tool has system administrator user rights to read, write and execute hidden programs anywhere on your hard disk, and in system memory, creating a huge open wound in system security, now that hackers know the simpleminded cloaking key.
Sony has not yet chosen to work with microsoft to manage all this (they should) - stemming from the HD-DVD and Blu-ray -- Toshiba/Miscrosoft vs Sony situation, and well, basic arrogance on both sides.

In reality this is the Good Part, since Sony will (added: HAS) gracefully? fallen on thier swords over it, and microsoft will herald the "recovery" as something only they can properly provide...in yet another update that removes the XCP DRM rootkit tooling by First4Internet that Sony CD's installed...leading to a total recall of all the CD's involved.

Here is the Bad and UGLY part
- Microsoft made the rootkit functionality possible in thier operating systems so they could later do as they wanted to with a variety of hidden tools, on your machine, without you knowing it. Anyone with half a brain comes to the realization quickly that Microsoft deliberately left gaping holes in your supposedly secure PC, and all Sony did was try and use it.
It may have been a clumsy initial effort by Sony, but the true blame rests squarely with the now public knowlege that Windows operating system had 'Spying ON YOU' ability that could be engaged with a small amount of code later to be delivered in trusted media.


NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Sony BMG Music Entertainment has reached a tentative settlement with consumers who filed a class action lawsuit over the music company's copy-protection software on CDs, court papers show.
The lawsuit against Sony BMG, a joint venture of Japan's Sony Corp and Germany's Bertelsmann AG], stems from its use of controversial technology aimed at thwarting illegal copying of music on CDs. Consumers complained that the technology -- known as XCP -- violated their rights by potentially leaving computers vulnerable to hackers and allowing the company to track listening habits. The CDs with the XCP and MediaMax antipiracy software featured music from 52 popular artists including Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Celine Dion. Under the proposed settlement, which still must be approved by a federal judge in New York, consumers would be allowed to exchange the CDs for new ones without the copy-protection technology.

Sony BMG would also have to provide software to uninstall the technology and stop making CDs with XCP on them, according to court documents filed on Wednesday.
The settlement would entitle people who bought the CDs with the copy protection to a cash payment of $7.50 and one album download from a list of more than 200 titles. Alternatively, they could download three albums from the list.
A separate lawsuit was filed in November by the Texas attorney general against Sony BMG Music Entertainment accusing it of violating the state's laws on deceptive trade practices by hiding the "spyware" on its CDs.

Note: i have it on good authority that it was a BMG team that caused all this, some german arrogance basically, the Sony people i know were stunned and shocked that all this happened.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Consider this.. HD DVD / Blu-ray

Controversy... the process of missing the point.

... more need-to-know about the format situation, since in many ways and very soon, the disc HD format will become a focal point for content that you will see on that new HDTV widescreen beauty that displays crappy tv and marginal DVD quality in all it's requisite ugliness.

Toshiba = HD DVD
READ: http://www.toshiba.co.jp/hddvd/eng/faq/index.htm
they cannot event spell, hence the current link title:
HD DVD Promortion Group site's FAQ ( http://www.hddvdprg.com/faq/index.html )
oh yes I am so filled with confidence when i see such stuff.

Current gossip and here-say: The Market-space intention of HD DVD is lower price in the DVD media costs and mass produced media and players made in China. ( can you say WalMart? )

This market tactic has near-term advantages:

1) HD DVD uses basically the same production-line tooling and materials as current single-side DVD's : The Good - the better - and the really bad.

-- the good is that its quick, proven and optimized to be cheap.
-- even better they have an HD DVD-R writeable, so you can save your stuff in the HD format.
-- the bad , in that soft plastics are used in mass DVD replication. Visible surface scratches and the dvd of today can cause playback trouble, and they scratch easily. The ultimate worse is that you buy a $50 HD DVD title and your kids or drunk friend whatever gets a scrape or 2 into the surface. Oops/. That made in china player is going to hang / get stuck / not play. ... beep ... beeep ... hello Netflix?, this movie wont run.

2) Like Printer cartridges, the holy water here is the $$ in the consumable media of the technology, and not the technology itself, the content of an HD-DVD is the profit, so the Made in China benefit of low cost is right in line with smart corporate-think... right?... And with yet further incomplete reasoning, CHINA is the worst abuser of copyright replication knock-off illegal DVD content on the planet... and Toshiba is going to hand them the keys to the safe so they can make this stuff. Hollywood cringe. Nightmare on Melrose Ave.

3) CEO confidence in format wars is low. All players are now hedging thier bets with dual format announcements, most of them are backing down from HD-DVD by adding blu-ray support to the on-paper-planning. I dont blame them.

Dont get me wrong, i want HD DVD to work out, its just that basic reasoning is falling apart at a fundamental level here... the HD-DVD camp actually has the freedom of the user in mind more than anyone does, and they are actually the good guys, wanting affordable HD for joe-sixpack and his kids.

Blu-ray - Slower to market & smarter in doing it.
BUT!!! This is also not the happy-camper crowd, since they have yet to see a true 50-gig production worthy sample, and they are taking a lot on faith, but hey it is not rocket science and they will make it work, even though there are issues ...:

1) Good for Hollywood - The BDMV is a movie distribution-specific format of the blu-ray disc. MADE to make hollywood happy, and it will... basically those deals are nearing done at a decent pace. It was the right thing to do all along, didnt happen on regular DVD, and finally it's going to be real, since they know a lot more now about how to get it right.

2) Good for ME - blu-ray discs are made with a rock hard scratch proof plastic. The people in my house would mangle my current DVD's if they werent safely locked up in the jukebox,
but i still seem to have a collection of unplayable DVDs and video games lost to mishandling and scratches/gouges.

3) Sony Ps3. A whole mega-conglomerate with its eyes on this... problem is they do not yet have a media-center operating system that is adoptable, so they will have to offer a layer on top of Miscrosoft Media Center which is the xbox 360 game machine and HD-DVD at the moment. This is where the lack of happy-campers is an issue, but fortunately the media center wars are not an impact until much farther downline in the evolution of all this.

From what i can see - and i want it all, both have strong reasons to own:, my Feature films will probably be playing off my blu-ray PS3 and my media center will use HD-DVD-Rs, since the PS3 wont burn a disc and the media center PC will, and i still get what i want, cheap burnable media and high quality DVD movies. I wont be caring that there are 2 formats since i will have 2 purposes covered at the price-point and functionality that I want.

Tally-ho the Fox... Release the hounds... call me - i would be happy to Beta Test whatever you have.