Archive for May, 2010

The Economics of TV Piracy

SyFy’s Craig Engler has been blogging over at Boing Boing of late, discussing all things television. He’s got two recent posts which are IMO very much worth reading:

Why You Can’t Watch Every Show Online For Free

and

Why Watching TV Online Doesn’t Help Ratings

The most fundamental point here is that television in the United States is completely, cripplingly dependent on broadcast advertising revenue, the value of which is basically dictated by Nielsen ratings. Does legal online viewing do anything? Not really, says Engler, who intimates that it’s nearly profitless and done more as a semi-charitable act towards viewers than anything else.

If you’re not part of a Nielsen household, your television viewing habits have basically zero market effect, and what you do really doesn’t matter.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on May 18th, 2010 | 2 Comments »

Encoding Mac Video on a PC – Help?

Dear loyal readers:

I have a problem.

Uncle Sam – or one of Uncle Sam’s noodly appendages, anyway – has provided me a very interesting video that is roughly ninety minutes in length.

I’d like to rip a copy and put it on the web for others to view.

The video was burned to a DVD-R with a Mac. (Uncle Sam has Macs? When did that happen?)

I do not own a Mac. I don’t really want to own one. (I already have… seven? eight? computers.)

My DVD player can play the DVD.

None of my Windows computers can read the DVD. (I haven’t tried a Linux machine yet, because none of my Linux boxes have DVD drives, and none of the Live CDs I have provide much in the way of multimedia support.)

So… anyone know of an easy way to read a Mac-formatted video DVD under Windows XP, and transcode that into a format that’s a bit more, you know, standards-based, and widely compatible?

(Or, failing that, anyone feeling philanthropic enough to donate a grand or so, so I can get a Macbook, rip the video, and upload it to Liveleaks or something?)

I probably know people with Macs I can bug to do it for me, but I try to be, like, self-sufficient, given the choice.

Thanks in advance…

Published in: Geekiness | on May 17th, 2010 | 5 Comments »

Cigarettes = Bad For Kids. Heroin and Cocaine? Not So Much.

In the United States, advertising of tobacco products – and to a slightly lesser extent, alcoholic beverages – are among the most-restricted forms of speech around. Tobacco advertising is banned outright on television and radio.

Why?

Ostensibly, because the government doesn’t want susceptible individuals – specifically children – exposed to cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in any way, shape, or form.

It’s the leading preventable cause of death, don’t you know.

So, you know, that’s why you never hear ads for cigarettes on the radio. (Remember radio?) Federal law, yo.

Overall, though, the moral guardians are kind of missing the big picture, I’m afraid.
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Published in: General | on May 17th, 2010 | No Comments »

Truths Self-Evident

Something I read recently that struck me as particularly truthy, in this day and age:

…[B]eefy Caucasians with guns! Get enough of them together, looking for the America they always believed they’d grow up in, and they glom together like overcooked rice, form integral, starchy little units. With their power tools, portable generators, weapons, four-wheel-drive vehicles, and personal computers, they are like beavers hyped up on crystal meth, manic engineers without a blueprint, chewing through the wilderness, building things and abandoning them, altering the flow of mighty rivers and then moving on because the place ain’t what it used to be.

The byproduct of the lifestyle is polluted rivers, greenhouse effect, spouse abuse, televangelists, and serial killers.

–Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, 1992

Published in: Geekiness | on May 14th, 2010 | No Comments »

Thoughts on the Times Square (and other) Bombings

A week-and-a-bit later, nearly everyone with a keyboard has weighed in on the 1 May 2010 would-be bombing in New York City, so forgive me if I’m late to the party. Amid all the discussions I’ve seen – blah blah domestic radicalization, blah blah al-Qaeda training camp, blah blah Pakistan, blah blah stupid terrorists who can’t even build a bomb properly – there’s one (to my mind) pressing question that remains unanswered: Why?

Or, more properly, why May 1st?

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Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', General, History | on May 12th, 2010 | No Comments »