The SIRI-TV

October 28, 2011

Not enough hardware eye candy. That was the undertone of disappointment that surrounded the introduction of Apple’s new iPhone.

Apple’s television plans are a case of “when” not “if” the latest rumors insist, with Steve Jobs’ well-quoted “I finally cracked it” comment believed to be referring to Siri replacing the traditional remote control rather than the TV hardware and design itself. ”Steve thinks the [TV] industry is totally broken” a source told the NYTimes, one of several who apparently confirmed that Apple was experimenting with TV hardware and software. ”Absolutely, it is a guaranteed product for Apple” was the message, with execs supposedly knowing the true Apple TV was on the roadmap as far back as 2007.

To successfully carve out a gap in what has become a hotly-contested, low-margin segment, however, Apple needed not only its coveted design but to polish the user experience. That supposedly began with replacing one of the mainstays of the current living room setup, the remote control. Siri – which was launched on the iPhone 4S and reacts to naturally-phrased spoken commands – is Apple’s solution, in Steve Jobs’ words allowing for a TV that has “the simplest user interface you could imagine.”

More than a year ago, supply chain sources speaking to the newspaper suggested they’d seen “large parts floating around” that “looked like [they] could be part of a large Apple television.” However, insiders at and close to Apple said that any product builds were on hold until the software and control side came up to speed. That, with Siri – still described by Apple as in beta – looks to finally be coming of age.

Other recent leaks have indicated that Apple’s iTunes chief is currently leading the television project, while – like the existing Apple TV set-top box – the standalone television is believed to run iOS; it would also have FaceTime video calling, as per recent iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and MacBook models. The newspaper argues that the limiting factor today is the cost of large display panels, something that Apple needs to see fall if it hopes to compete with the affordable TVs on sale today. Nonetheless, its prediction is a true Apple television by 2013.

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Apple TV: Jobs Sought Seamless Syncing With Devices and iCloud

October 24, 2011

Reports have suggested for more than a year that Apple is working on a smart TV product, and those reports were firmed up last week when an excerpt from Steve Jobs’s biography revealed that the Apple co-Founder was indeed working on an Apple television.

”I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” Jobs said according to biographer Walter Isaacson.

“It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

“He very much wanted to do for television sets what he had done for computers, music players, and phones: make them simple and elegant,” Isaacson said in the book. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” he told me. “It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud.” No longer would users have to fiddle with complex remotes for DVD players and cable channels. “It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.”

Rumors that Apple has plans to enter the TV market have swirled for years now.

Those reports were firmed up last week when an excerpt from Steve Jobs’s biography revealed that the Apple co-Founder was indeed working on an Apple television. ”I’d like to create an integrated television set that is completely easy to use,” Jobs said according to biographer Walter Isaacson. “It would be seamlessly synced with all of your devices and with iCloud. It will have the simplest user interface you could imagine. I finally cracked it.” In a note to investors on Monday, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said that the upcoming introduction of a smart TV represents a $100 billion revenue opportunity for the Cupertino, California-based consumer electronics giant. Read on for more.

Full Story: Apple’s smart TV to feature ‘unmatched aesthetics,’ could be game-changer for gaming


Reasons the Amazon Kindle Beats the iPad

October 9, 2011

The Kindle Fire is burning up the charts.

Purported pre-sales of the newly announced Kindle Fire by Amazon suggest the tablet is on track to outsell the iPad in first-month sales. If accurate, that’s big — really big. So far, competing brands have done nothing to rival Apple’s splash nor dominance of the growing tablet market. The Fire is the first real competitor. It may not be the first, first, but it is the first with the LOW PRICE!!!

Apple iPad sales are as brisk as ever, of course, but there’s plenty of reason for the excitement surrounding the all-new, color screen, touch-enabled Kindle Fire. To borrow an Apple word, it’s different. But it’s also similar enough to the iPad that a lot of consumers might view it as a worthy alternative — indeed, something better.

Start with reason #1, stop there is you have had enough, but it gets better down the article. Me personally, not too concerned with Amazon specific offerings, I am more concerned how it functions as a general computing pad gadget.

1. Eye-popping affordability. At $199, the Kindle Fire sells for less than half the price of the iPad, which starts at $500. So for every entry-level iPad bought and sold, you could buy two and a half Fires. That alone is turning heads, especially since the previously released and uninspired iPad clones have tried to charge as much as Apple for a much less desired product.

2. A lot more content. Content is king. And iPad may be king of the apps, but Kindle Fire bests it considerably by volume of content. The Fire will have immediate access to the 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books already available on Amazon’s easy-to-browse virtual shelves.

Apple doesn’t cite how many TV shows or songs are available, but the number appears to be far less in annecdotal searches.

Want to rent instead of buy? There’s an app … er, a solution for that, too: 10,000 movies and TV shows can be streamed instantly. Those numbers are huge, and growing everyday.

3. Free storage. If you want to take all your content with you, the entry-level iPad and its puny 16 gig storage drive leaves a lot to be desired. You can buy more, but it’ll cost you. Which is why the Fire’s sales pitch — free cloud storage for all your Amazon content — is so enticing, especially since Amazon is already the no. 1 digital bookstore, the no. 2 mp3 store (behind Apple), and high on the list in other categories.

For content you don’t buy from Amazon, there are about 6 gigs of free space on the Fire to do with as you please.

4. Democratized apps. One of the biggest knocks on the Apple AppStore is that it’s a closed system—if Apple doesn’t like your stuff, no app for you. One of the biggest knocks on the Google Android software powering nearly every other tablet out there is that it’s too open—you’re required to sift through a lot of junk to get to the goods.

The Kindle Fire hopes to bridge that gap with the Amazon Appstore, which remains open like Android, but only makes available the very best and most popular apps from the open market. The result: More free apps without the hassle, the best of both worlds approach.

5. Ergonomics – Easier to hold. The 10-inch iPad is a lot of fun, but hard to handle with one hand due to its weight and size. The 6-inch Kindle reader, on the other hand, is a lot easier to hold. With only one hand, you can hold it for several hours without fatigue. The new 7-inch Kindle Fire promises the same: capable of being held with one hand, lighter than the iPad, and a lot more portable.

Where the compromises are: All of those pros don’t come without sacrifices, however. The Fire’s screen is 3” smaller than the iPad, which might not make it as ideal a device for watching movies or playing HD games (that’s to be seen, though). Furthermore, the Fire lacks a lens and microphone, so it won’t be able to snap photos, shoot video, or accept video calls.

But for $300 less, those are things I bet a lot of people can live without. You already should have a $100 camera, bought from Amazon, natch to do those chores.

The Kindle Fire goes on sale Nov. 15 for $199.

Isn’t that the real reason it’s burning up the charts, and will win in the end???
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Are “a la carte” Programming The Future Of Cable?

September 29, 2011

A number of cable operators are seriously considering implementing some sort of  “a la carte” option for customers. It is way too soon to say whether they will actually move forward with the plan, or whether it would let users choose individual channels or some sort of customized bundle. Nonetheless, the news is startling in that MSOs and networks have long argued that bundling is the best model for buying TV.

But executives now say the change is a necessary response to shifting dynamics such as higher carriage costs and using the Web to watch programs, as well as a weak economic recovery that has forced many consumers to cancel cable television subscriptions.

Networks like ESPN, which charges upwards of $4 per subscriber per month, are cited as driving up the cost of the basic cable package.

 “We feel that some of those expensive channels should be offered a la carte so only those people who want to watch them actually pay for them,” said Jerry Kent, chief executive of Suddenlink, which has 1.3 million cable customers.

Among TV news channels, Fox News has the highest carriage fee at $0.58 according to SNL Kagan, and is angling for even more carriage cash as new deals come up. Any sort of a la carte option could strike a blow to many smaller channels, such as Fox Business or Bloomberg, which may not be able to sustain themselves on the number of subscribers that would actually “buy in.” Major media companies such as News Corp. and NBC Universal vociferously oppose all a la carte measures, knowing that essentially all of their channels could be adversely affected.

Rather than simply letting consumers choose only the channels they want, some sort of hybrid model–which leaves off expensive channels such as ESPN, Fox News and TNT, could emerge as an option.


Catch, 6 1/2 Ton Spy Satellite Comes Home

September 21, 2011

With a massive dead NASA-CIA spy satellite due to plunge back to Earth this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is laying the groundwork for a fast response in case the 6 1/2-ton spacecraft falls over American soil.

Let’s Hope It Doesn’t hit anything …


Tech: Thunderbolt

September 15, 2011

What The Heck Is Thunderbolt, Anyway?

If you’ve ever used a USB drive or a FireWire cable, you already have a great insight into what thunderbolt is all about.

It’s an input and output medium for your computer, sending and receiving data to any Thunderbolt-compatible device.

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Obama: How To Raise The Oil Price And Raise Gasoline Prices

May 12, 2011

One of the first actions the Obama team took when it assumed office in was to direct Secretary of the Interior Salazar to cancel 77 shale oil and gas leases in Utah. The next year they canceled 61 onshore leases in Montana. TheGreen River shale formation in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, has an estimated 800 billion barrels of oil, which is three times the proven reserves of Saudi Arabia. Federal law prohibits drilling for most of these resources. In the Bakken oil shale formation in the Dakotas, there are an estimated 20 billion barrels of oil.

In the Marcellus shale formation in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, there
could be as much as 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the largest natural gas field in
the world.

This chart from the US GeologicalSurvey …

How about that hopey changey thing working out for you? You like the $4 a gallon gasoline? Thank Obama.

As this charts below shows, the USA has all the fossil fuel it needs for 100s of years.

And then the other day Obama said that the USA production of oil is the largest ever. Well that was just a lie …

Peaked with Jimmy Cater as as he shut production down it’s been going down ever since. So isn’t the real question why does the USA give hundreds of billions of dollars to Saudi Arabia each year?


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