opinion

The Future of Video Entertainment

Much ado has been made recently about the end of the format war between Blu-Ray and HD DVD. Sony finally won a format war, much to my (and many other people’s) surprise. After losing Beta vs. VHS, Memory Stick vs. SD, and MiniDisc vs. who-knows-what, it’s hard to fault everybody (including me) for predicting the demise of Blu-Ray.

Sadly for Sony, I’m not sure it’s that much of a victory. They finally win one and it turns out the battle has changed. Given my recent track record on predictions in this battle, I’m not sure I should be making others, but here’s my new prediction: neither HD DVD nor Sony Blu-Ray win the format battle. Instead, downloads direct to some (really any) media device will win. Sure TiVo/Amazon have allowed people to download movies for a while now, but they charge anywhere from $0.99 to $3.99, allowing 30-60 minutes before starting to watch is wise, and they limit viewing time to 24-hours once you start watching it.

Last night, I finally got around to trying the Netflix download service. First, it’s “free”. Since I already have the service, I can download any one of about 8,000 movies instantly at no additional cost. While 8,000 certainly doesn’t cover all movies, it’s way more than are available on pay-per-view, more than are available at my local Blockbuster, and more than were available on the TiVo/Amazon partnership. Next, I was able to start watching within about 5 seconds. I’m sure it varies based on the hardware, but I tried it on a slower laptop over a wireless network and had no issues. Sure, watching video on a laptop isn’t that much fun especially for a group, but all the new HD TV’s have a computer input, making that connection simple. The quality was as good as any regular DVD I’ve rented (though not yet HD quality). When I didn’t like the movie, I felt like I could stop the movie. I hadn’t paid for it. I didn’t have to wait another 30-60 minutes for the next download to start. I didn’t have to take the DVD back to the store or even put it in the Netflix mailer. I could move on with little or no penalty. Sure other software, not the least of which is iTunes, offers some of the same capabilities, but none (that I’m aware of) offer it on a fixed price, all-you-can-eat model, and none that I’ve seen that allow viewing almost instantly at full quality.

Now that’s the future of video entertainment!


Taking Responsibility

It’s interesting that I chose now to check back with the Wayback Machine which is an archive of all pages posted to the Internet, ever. It’s not perfect, but every once and a while it comes in handy. I’ve been meaning to go out there for a while because I had some articles I wrote for my website several versions ago and in the process of switching machines, had lost the text. Turns out, they are sort of blog posts, before blogging began. There are 3 that I’ll share over the coming weeks. However, given the post I just wrote on New Orleans, this one seemed particularly interesting. It was written 6 or so years ago, but seems just as relevant today. Here it is:

Personal Responsibility

I think its about time that somebody weighed in on personal responsibility. It has be come more and more common to hear from the mothers of murderers who say that is not the criminal’s fault and that the real problem lies with the society that raised the child. I use a harsh example for a problem that cuts across all races, all incomes, and all regions of this country. People on the factory floor, in the office, or on the street corner can all be heard saying “it’s not my problem, let somebody else deal with it.” When did this begin to happen? When did it become everyone else’s responsibility for an individuals actions? People need to begin taking control of their own lives. The statements of the mothers are even more disturbing when the child is underage and only 10 or 12 or 15. The child is old enough to know right from wrong and surely able to understand that actions have consequences. Where is the parent’s role in the whole matter? When did that mother get absolved from her role in rearing the child? Hillary Clinton believes that “it takes a village to raise a child.” In today’s society that may be true since it seems that many parents have removed themselves from that role.

I know people that have been dealt difficult situations in life some of their own choosing and some that were harsh realities of the game. Yet some people rise above the hand that they are dealt and don’t fold. Instead they work to survive that hand long enough to get another deal. These are people who take responsibility not only for their own actions, but for the situation they are dealt. It is a great first step to take what comes out of your own decisions and actions (or inactions). However, I believe it goes a step beyond that. Rampant throughout business and industry today in union and non-union shops, you will hear the phrase “It’s not my job” or “It’s not my fault” repeated over and over. However true that may be, if you have the solution to the problem, then you should make it your responsibility to resolve that issue. I know people who have been put in situations that could not have been predicted or avoided, yet chose to survive instead of bury their head in the sand and ignore their environment.

When the opportunities come up, if you have a way to resolve the issue or the ability to take action, just do something…anything and we will have made tremendous strides to make this a better place for each one of us. Take responsibility for your own actions. Deal with the situation you were given as if it was your responsibility. Help those around you succeed in their own struggles. Maybe just maybe, we can make this just a little bit better place to be.

Those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours.


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